UPDATE: Lawyers for Michael Cohen and Donald Trump have formally notified the court Thursday evening that they intend to ask for the case to be stayed, citing Cohen’s Fifth Amendment rights. Stormy Daniels attorney, Michael Avenatti, will oppose the motion.
Just one week after President Donald Trump told reporters to direct all questions about the Stormy Daniels allegations to his lawyer, Michael Cohen, Cohen will “plead the Fifth Amendment against self incrimination,” according to Michael Avenatti, Daniels’ lawyer.
“That’s what we have been informed by his counsel,” Avenatti said on MSNBC Thursday. “You may recall that one week ago today, the president stood on Air Force One and told the public and the press that if they had any questions about what happened relating to the agreement or the payment, that they could pose those questions to Michael Cohen.”
Trump said, asked by a reporter en route to West Virginia, that he didn’t know about the alleged $130,000 payment Cohen made to Daniels right before the 2016 presidential election. Trump has also completely denied the affair. A reporter then asked, “Then why did Michael Cohen make it, if there was no truth to her allegations?”
“You’ll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael’s my attorney, and you’ll have to ask Michael,” Trump responded.
But on Thursday, Avenatti said he learned Cohen won’t be answering any questions at all and that Cohen will be seeking an emergency stay against the defamation suit. Avenatti also said they will oppose that stay.
“Make no mistake about it. We’re talking about the attorney to the president of the United States,” Aventti said. “The man that knows where a lot of bodies are buried, and we have learned within the last hour or two that it is his intention to plead the Fifth Amendment.”
As ThinkProgress’ Judd Legum has noted, the Daniels story is so dangerous for Trump for three reasons, including the fact that it indicates Trump, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than a dozen women, is willing to lie about his sexual encounters with women, that the Daniels story has parallels to those stories, and because it suggests that Trump is vulnerable to extortion and blackmail.
When Trump finally addressed the Daniels allegations last week, he was asked whether he knew where Cohen got the money to pay Daniels, and Trump said he did not. Trump was also asked whether he ever set up a fund of money from which Cohen could pull, a question the president did not answer.