WASHINGTON — A porn actress who says she had an affair with Donald Trump renewed an effort Sunday to get the president to answer her attorney’s questions under oath.
An attorney for Stormy Daniels filed the motion in federal court in Los Angeles. Michael Avenatti is seeking a jury trial and wants sworn testimony from Trump and his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen about a $130,000 payment made to Daniels days before the 2016 presidential election as part of a nondisclosure agreement she is seeking to invalidate.
Trump answered questions about Daniels for the first time last week, saying he had no knowledge of the payment made by Cohen and adding that he didn’t know where Cohen had gotten the money. The White House has consistently said Trump denies the affair and Cohen has held that he made the payment out of his own pocket, without involvement from the Trump Organization or the Trump campaign.
Cohen did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment Sunday.
Avenatti filed a similar motion over a week ago, which a judge deemed premature. He refiled after Trump asked a federal judge to order private arbitration in the case. Trump and Cohen filed papers last week asking a judge to rule that the case must be heard by an arbitrator instead of a jury. Avenatti opposes private arbitration.
In the filing, Avenatti says he wants to question Trump and Cohen for “no more than two hours.” He says the depositions are needed to establish if Trump knew about the settlement agreement and if he “truly did not know about the $130,000 payment.” He also asks if Trump was involved in any effort to “silence” Daniels.
Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, said in a recent interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes” that she was threatened by an unidentified man to keep quiet about the affair. Avenatti tweeted a photo Sunday that he said showed Daniels sitting with a forensic sketch artist to develop an image of the person she says threatened her in a Las Vegas parking lot in 2011 when she was with her infant daughter.
That interview prompted a lawyer for Cohen to demand that Daniels publicly apologize to his client for suggesting Cohen was involved in her intimidation. Daniels responded by filing a revised federal lawsuit accusing Cohen of defamation.
Avenatti did not say Sunday when the photograph had been taken, or when a sketch may be released.
If this legal move is successful, this would be the first deposition of a sitting president since Bill Clinton in 1998 had to answer questions about his conduct with women.
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