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March 08, 2019

Stormy Daniels Declares Victory Over Trump as Lawsuit Dismissed

LOS ANGELES—On March 2, 2018, AVN Hall of Famer Stormy Daniels sued Donald Trump and Trump’s then-lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen to get out of a “hush money” agreement she signed that prevented her from talking about a sexual encounter she had with Trump in 2006.  On March 7, 2019, a federal judge in Los Angeles, California, finally dismissed the lawsuit, saying that the suit had become irrelevant because both Trump and Cohen had earlier agreed that they would no longer enforce the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) or seek penalties from Daniels for violating it. Cohen last year admitted in court that he arranged the $130,000 “hush” payoff to Daniels, and that he did so because Trump ordered him to. He pleaded guilty to a felony campaign finance violation, admitting that the payment was designed to “influence” the 2016 presidential election—a federal crime—by keeping Daniels quiet about the sexual encounter. Daniels began ignoring the agreement within weeks of filing the lawsuit, publicly discussing her brief affair with Trump in multiple television interviews and, in October, publishing her autobiography in which she described having sex with Trump in graphic and painstaking detail. After her book was published, Trump’s lawyers argued in court that the book made the lawsuit irrelevant.  On Thursday, Judge S. James Otero appeared to agree, simply throwing the lawsuit out of court without a ruling in either party’s favor. Daniels quickly declared victory in the case. “More than a year ago when I was being threatened with a 20 million lawsuit, I asked a judge to toss out this illegal NDA. Glad I stood my ground & kept fighting," Daniels wrote on her Twitter account.  As soon as the lawsuit was filed last year, Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti undertook an aggressive campaign of television interviews and media appearances, attacking Trump and Cohen and defending Daniels. While Avenatti was often criticized for his strategy of maximum publicity, in the end, his approach turned out to be the right one, according to former prosecutor (now legal journalist) Ronn Blitzer, writing on the Law & Crime site.  “Make no mistake about it, Stormy Daniels won this case, and it’s because she and her attorney Michael Avenatti beat Trump and Cohen into submission," Blitzer wrote. “He knew that this case wasn’t going to be won in the courtroom, so he took it to the airwaves. It shouldn’t have worked, but it did.” Avenatti also declared victory in the case, in a post to his Twitter account.  “Be clear: The Court specifically found that Stormy received everything she asked for in the lawsuit—she won,” Avenatti wrote. “How people can claim this is a ‘loss’ after we forced Trump and Cohen to cave and Cohen has been convicted, etc. is a mystery.” However, Avenatti had earlier predicted that the judge would require Trump and Cohen to pay “astronomical” legal fees to Daniels as a result of the NDA lawsuit. Otero, however, said that with the dismissal, an award of legal fees was no longer his to make. Otero added that Daniels may, indeed, be entitled to reimbursement of her legal fees by Trump and Cohen, but he sent the case back to Superior Court in Los Angeles County, where a decision about legal fees—if there is a decision—would be made, according to a KTLA TV News report.  Photo by Showtime 'The Circus'/Wikimedia Commons 

 
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