A U.S. district court judge in Los Angeles has denied a request from President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, to issue a gag order against Stormy Daniels' lawyer, Michael Avenatti.
Cohen sought the gag order after objecting to Avenatti's public statements about him and Daniels' case against President Trump. Cohen's attorney, Brent Blakely, argued that Avenatti was engaged in an unfair public smear campaign against Cohen ahead of the trial, noting the dozens of appearances Avenatti had made on various news shows over the last few months.
According to the complaint filed in Los Angeles:
Mr. Avenatti's comments include statements that Mr. Cohen "has a history of thuggish behavior" and "is going to be indicted within the next three months" for "bank fraud, wire fraud, campaign finance violations" or "a whole host of potential criminal conduct."
However, U.S. District Court Judge S. James Otero disagreed, writing in his ruling that Cohen and his attorney did not show how Avenatti's appearances on cable news shows would impact Cohen's right to a fair trial, noting that his trial had already been delayed by several months.
“It is far from clear that the publicity in this case would affect the outcome of a trial that may happen, if at all, months down the road,” Otero wrote.
The judge also postponed the trial for another 45 days, citing a federal investigation into Cohen and his activities while acting as Trump's lawyer.
Daniels is suing over a nondisclosure order about an alleged affair she had with Trump that she signed in exchange for a $130,000 payment from Cohen. Daniels claims the document is invalid because the Trump never signed it. The former porn star has also a defamation lawsuit against Cohen and Trump after the president questioned whether she had been threatened by a man in Las Vegas in 2011. That lawsuit was filed in Manhattan and seeks up to $75,000 in damages.
Avenatti celebrated the win with a tweet on Tuesday: "So much winning from these two!" he wrote, referring to Cohen and Trump.
Here is a copy of the Order Judge Otero just issued in our case against Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen. It denies their attempt to silence me and prevent me from commenting as to the truth. So much winning from these two! #Basta https://t.co/doG2JazSq6— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) July 31, 2018
Trump's current personal lawyer, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, revealed earlier this year that the president had reimbursed Cohen for the payment to Daniels even after Trump denied knowing about the agreement.
Guiliani and Trump say the payment to Daniels did not violate any campaign finance laws.
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