Judge Dismisses Stormy Daniels’ Hush Money Suit Against Trump

March 8, 2019 Updated: March 8, 2019

A federal judge on Mar. 7 tossed out porn actress Stormy Daniels’ lawsuit against President Donald Trump and his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, in which she was seeking to break a non-disclosure agreement that she claims was signed as hush-money over an alleged 2006 affair, which Trump has denied.

Michael Cohen, former attorney and fixer for President Donald Trump, speaks to the media
Michael Cohen, former attorney and fixer for President Donald Trump, speaks to the media with his lawyer Lanny Davis after testifying at a closed door House Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. on Feb. 28, 2019.

U.S. District Court Judge S. James Otero in Los Angeles said the suit was irrelevant after Cohen agreed not to penalize Daniels for herself violating a nondisclosure agreement she signed in exchange for a $130,000 payment.

Attorney Michael Cohen admitted in federal court that he arranged the payment to silence Daniels. He pleaded guilty to campaign violations.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, had wanted a court to declare the agreement illegal so she could speak publicly about her claim without fear of financial penalty.

Stormy Daniels talks with journalist
Stormy Daniels, the porn star who claims to have slept with US President Donald Trump over a decade ago, talks with a journalist during an interview at the Berlin erotic fair ‘Venus’ in Berlin on Oct. 11, 2018. (Ralf Hirschberger/AFP/Getty Images)

The shell company Cohen set up to handle the deal, Essential Consultants, had once sought to fight Daniels in arbitration for violating the nondisclosure agreement by speaking in public about the alleged affair. Cohen had even threatened a $20 million lawsuit against her before vowing not to.

In seeking to dismiss the lawsuit, the president and Cohen effectively gave Daniels what she was initially seeking. They vowed not to seek penalties for breaking the deal.

Daniels had fought dismissal of the case because she wanted to record sworn testimony from the two.

Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, made no mention of that broader goal in declaring victory Thursday.

Attorney Michael Avenatti speaks at a news conference on Chicago
Attorney Michael Avenatti speaks at a news conference on Chicago on Feb. 22, 2019 (Kiichiro Sato/AP)

“The court found that Ms. Daniels received everything she asked for by way of the lawsuit—she won,” Avenatti said.

Avenatti had said he would seek legal fees in the case, but the judge said that was no longer an issue for him to decide.

Otero sent the case back to Los Angeles Superior Court, where it was initially filed. He said that move does not mean the litigation would continue there, but said Daniels may be entitled to legal fees.

Last year, Otero ordered Daniels to pay Trump $293,000 in attorney’s fees after dismissing a defamation lawsuit she brought against him.

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