Thursday, March 29, 2018

Update on Stormy Daniels vs. Donald Trump vs. Stormy Daniels

I have been amazed at the classy performance of Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti. I have been equally amazed (although by now I should not be) at the inability of Trump to field a competent legal team. I am not alone. The AZ Blue Meanie at Blog for Arizona summarizes the latest legal wrangling in the case of Stormy Daniels vs. Donald Trump in The porn star punks the president, seeks his deposition. Here are snippets.

I am duly impressed by Stormy Daniel’s attorney, Michael Avenatti. He has totally outclassed the hapless Donald Trump and his shyster attorney, Michael Cohen. Avenatti is way smarter than these guys and their lawyers.

Avenatti set a litigation trap for them, and these cocky fools walked right into it. Stormy Daniels asks court to order deposition of Trump and his lawyer Michael Cohen:

Stormy Daniels’s attorney is asking a federal judge in California for permission to depose President Trump and his longtime lawyer Michael Cohen about the nondisclosure agreement (NDA) the porn actress says she signed to keep quiet about her alleged affair with the president.

Trump and Cohen’s legal teams are seeking to force Daniels to settle the case in private arbitration, which is required under the terms of the agreement. But Avenatti argues the matter can’t be resolved “without facts and evidence, and thus discovery.” He is seeking expedited depositions and document production, and a trial within 90 days of a judicial ruling on the motion.

It is not clear to me what Trump and Cohen hope to achieve by continuing to pursue their lawsuit against Stormy Daniels. Daniels has already told her story to InTouch Weekly and to 60 Minutes for all the world to see. What facts are they still trying to suppress?

The only thing that makes sense to me is that Daniels has more on Trump that she has not yet publicly disclosed, and it must be something damning in order for Trump and Cohen to continue to pursue this stategy to force her into private arbitration. What makes them think that she just won’t disclose it in due time? (Just what is on that disk Avenatti hinted contained evidence?)

As for Cohen’s claim for $20 million in damages — not going to happen. The court would find this an unconscionable penalty unrelated in scope to any actual damages sustained by Daniels’ disclosures.

The real purpose of the lawsuit by Trump and Cohen against Stormy Daniels is intimidation, to chill the speech of other women with whom Trump has the same form NDA agreement.

A depostion would be the end of Trump. He can’t go two minutes without lying. And lying in a deposition is why Bill Clinton was impeached.

How did it come to this? Amy Davidson Sorkin (New Yorker) provides a how-to-do-it list in How Trump Escalated the Stormy Daniels Story: A Thirteen-Step Guide. I’ll list the steps here, but for your morning entertainment, you should read the details in the original.

The scandal won’t go away, largely because Donald Trump and his lawyers have propelled it forward. Here’s how they have managed it so far:

  1. Go to a celebrity golf tournament, and decide how to spend your free time.

  2. At the first sign that a woman has a story to tell, treat her as an enemy.

  3. Spend five years ignoring reality. In this case the reality that, via gossip sites, the basics of the story are made public.

  4. When you run for President, be sure to claim that women who may have such stories about you are liars.

  5. Threats involving big numbers are more your style than legally grounded ones.

  6. Some lawyers would draft such an agreement in a way that does not require your signature. Not your lawyer!

  7. Don’t bother to sign it. Your lawyer got the money to Clifford less than two weeks before the election. We’re done here, right?

  8. But do you know exactly what your lawyer is doing?

  9. When your lawyer starts telling implausible stories about the deal, let him keep talking.

  10. Let your lawyer take actions that guarantee that your involvement in the hush agreement will come to light.

  11. Don’t think about what her next move might be.

  12. Make it twenty million dollars, then! Hire more lawyers, and have them not only join Cohen’s effort to enforce the agreement but ask to move the case to federal court—where, your filing says, you will pursue all legal remedies. Put aside the thought that legal remedies often involve things like discovery and depositions. And, by asking to move the case to federal court, you give Clifford an opening to file an amended complaint: the new version includes a defamation claim against Cohen and arguments about possible campaign-finance violations.

  13. Maybe just call her a liar? Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House spokesperson, doesn’t comment on whether you watched Clifford on “60 Minutes,” but does say that you think that everything Clifford said on the show was untrue. Sanders also confirms that you and Cohen had dinner the night before the broadcast. But you haven’t tweeted about Clifford by name—not yet.

I look forward to Step #14. You know there will be one. And we should not be amazed to find out that Michael Avenatti has anticipated Steps 14–20 about which Michael Cohen has no clue.

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