Trump seeks to move past Stormy Daniels lawsuit, says 2016 deal was never valid

Posted at 10:58 PM, Sep 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-08 22:58:17-04

(CNN) — Donald Trump on Saturday sought to move past a lawsuit from adult film star Stormy Daniels that has created legal headaches for the President for much of this year, stating in a court filing that he would not seek to enforce the infamous 2016 settlement agreement between Daniels and Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen.

The so-called hush agreement, forged between Daniels and Cohen on behalf of his shell company Essential Consultants in the weeks leading up to the 2016 election, included a $130,000 payment to the actress in exchange for her silence about an alleged affair with Trump. Earlier this year, Daniels sued Trump, saying the secret agreement should be void since Trump himself never signed it. Trump on Saturday made clear that Daniels was right — he was never party to the deal.

Trump’s attorney, Charles Harder, said in Saturday’s court filing that Trump would not contest Daniels’ “assertion that the Settlement Agreement was never formed, or in the alternative, should be rescinded.”

Harder ended his letter by calling for Daniels to “immediately dismiss” Trump from her lawsuit, and he requested a meeting with her attorney Michael Avenatti if she would not agree to dismiss Trump voluntarily.

Trump’s move followed a separate filing from Cohen on Friday. In it, Cohen agreed to tear up the original 2016 agreement with Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford. Trump has denied the alleged affair.

“These shenanigans by Cohen and Trump are going nowhere,” Avenatti told CNN. “They are desperate.”

He continued his attack on Trump in a Saturday afternoon tweet.

“I have been practicing law for nearly 20 yrs. Never before have I seen a defendant so frightened to be deposed as Donald Trump, especially for a guy that talks so tough,” he said.

Cohen, in his filing on Friday, sought to erase the agreement and requested that Daniels return the $130,000 payment he has said he facilitated.

Avenatti told CNN on Friday after Cohen’s filing that Cohen was “playing a game in an attempt to avoid his deposition and that of Mr. Trump.”

Trump’s legal maneuver on Saturday marked a significant development in the lengthy legal saga involving Daniels.

Federal authorities raided Cohen’s belongings in April, and since then, his relationship with Trump has devolved publicly. Cohen pleaded guilty to eight charges last month, including two campaign finance violations. He also previously said he would put his family and country before Trump.

Trump has lashed out at Cohen on Twitter, including after CNN aired audio of a recording Cohen made of the two discussing how they would buy the rights to former Playboy model Karen McDougal’s story about an alleged affair she had with Trump years earlier, which Trump also denied.

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