Trump lawyer ignores porn star's offer to return hush money
Reuters | Tue, March 13, 2018 03:39 EDT
(Reuters) - A lawyer for U.S. President Donald Trump ignored a suggested Tuesday noon deadline on an adult-film star's offer to return $130,000 in hush money so that she can speak freely about an alleged affair with Trump, her attorney said.
In a letter to Michael Cohen on Monday, actress Stephanie Clifford, who uses the stage name Stormy Daniels, offered to send $130,000 to an account designated by Trump so she could be released from a non-disclosure agreement she signed in October 2016.
Once a new agreement is signed, the letter said, Clifford would also be able to use and publish any text messages, photos and videos relating to Trump that she might possess.
Cohen, a private lawyer for Trump, has said he paid Clifford $130,000 of his own money during the 2016 presidential campaign. Cohen did not explain why he made the payment or say whether Trump was aware of it. [nL2N1Q41T5]
Clifford's attorney, Michael Avenatti, said Cohen had not responded to the offer by Clifford's proposed deadline of noon on Tuesday.
"The President and Mr. Cohen have purposely ignored our settlement offer, thus doubling down on their efforts to muzzle Ms. Clifford and prevent her from telling the American people what happened," Avenatti tweeted. "Time to buckle up."
Clifford could face a $1 million penalty if she breaks the nondisclosure agreement. She taped an interview with CBS News' "60 Minutes" program last week that has yet to be aired.
The White House referred the matter to Trump's personal attorney for comment. Neither Cohen, nor his lawyer, Lawrence Rosen, responded to a request for comment.
Avenatti filed a lawsuit last week in Los Angeles, claiming Trump never signed the nondisclosure agreement that his lawyer made with her, rendering it null and void, and making public the agreement and related documents.
On Friday, the lawyer filed a document to remove the judge assigned to the case. Avenatti told Reuters it is not appropriate for Judge Elizabeth Feffer, now in Los Angeles Superior Court, to preside over a case in which the president is a defendant, because she is pursuing a federal judgeship.
Mary Hearn, a spokeswoman for the court, said Feffer would not be able to comment because of judicial ethics involving pending cases.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told a briefing last week that Trump had won an arbitration proceeding against Clifford.
(Reporting by Karen Freifeld; editing by Susan Thomas and Jonathan Oatis)
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