Stormy Daniels Lawsuit Delayed as Judge Cites ‘Likely’ Indictment of Michael Cohen


Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, said this week that he would invoke his Fifth Amendment rights if called as a witness in a lawsuit brought against the president.

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A federal judge in California on Friday ordered a three-month delay in the lawsuit brought by the pornographic film star Stephanie Clifford against President Trump, citing what he called the likelihood that Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, will be indicted.

In granting a defense request for the postponement, the judge, S. James Otero of United States District Court in Los Angeles, sided with the president’s legal team that the unusual circumstances of the case warranted the stay of action. Judge Otero acknowledged in his order that complications might arise from an overlap with a criminal investigation into Mr. Cohen.

“This is no simple criminal investigation,” Judge Otero wrote. “It is an investigation into the personal attorney of a sitting president regarding documents that might be subject to the attorney-client privilege. Whether or not an indictment is forthcoming, and the court thinks it likely based on these facts alone, these unique circumstances counsel in favor of stay.”

On Wednesday, Mr. Cohen, whose New York office, apartment and hotel room were raided this month by the F.B.I., invoked his Fifth Amendment rights in Ms. Clifford’s lawsuit, citing the “ongoing criminal investigation” in New York.

Ms. Clifford, who is better known as Stormy Daniels, was paid $130,000 by Mr. Cohen to keep quiet about claims that she had an affair with Mr. Trump after meeting him in 2006. She sued last month to get out of the nondisclosure agreement she signed in October 2016, claiming it is void because Mr. Trump had never signed it.


Stephanie Clifford and her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, in New York last week. “We want to get the truth to the American people as quickly as possible,” Mr. Avenatti said on Friday.

Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

With the delay, Judge Otero sought to avoid some of the hurdles presented by the overlap between the claims made by Ms. Clifford and the F.B.I. investigation.

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