Attorneys for President Donald Trump filed papers in Los Angeles on Monday seeking to compel closed-door arbitration to resolve a lawsuit filed by adult-film actress Stormy Daniels over allegations he had an affair with the performer a decade ago.
According to documents filed in Los Angeles federal court, attorneys for Trump and his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, contend that since Daniels accepted a $130,000 payment and signed an October 2016 settlement agreement, she is required to enter into private arbitration to settle "any and all claims that may arise" between herself and Trump.
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, said in her lawsuit that she is identified in the "hush agreement'' by the pseudonym "Peggy Peterson,'' while Trump uses the name "David Dennison.''
Daniels' attorney, Michael Avenatti, said he will fight the effort to settle the matter privately.
"We will vigorously oppose the just-filed motion by DJT (Trump) and MC (Cohen) to have this case decided in private arbitration, in a private (conference) room, hidden from the American public," he wrote on Twitter. "This is a democracy and this matter should be decided in an open court of law owned by the people.
"And the declaration Mr. Cohen just filed is more interesting for what it does not state -- it does not state that he never discussed the agreement with (Trump), that (Trump) did not know about the agreement or that (Trump) did not ultimately pay the $130K, all issues (Trump) is also silent on,'' Avenatti said.
Last week, U.S. District Judge S. James Otero rejected as "premature" a motion by Avenatti to depose Trump and Cohen for two hours each about allegations that the now-president had an affair with Daniels more than a decade ago. Otero denied the motion without prejudice, meaning Avenatti is free to re-file the request to depose Trump at the appropriate time -- which Avenatti indicated last week he would do if Cohen and Trump try to force the case into arbitration.
Local, state and national politics
Daniels filed suit against Trump last month, asking the court to declare the nondisclosure agreement invalid because Trump/Dennison never signed it.
Trump has not directly addressed Daniels' allegations, although White House press officials have repeatedly said that Trump denies having an affair with Daniels.
Avenatti expanded the lawsuit last month, adding a defamation allegation against Cohen, who has accused Daniels of lying about the alleged affair and her accusation that someone physically threatened her after she went public.
Cohen has filed papers alleging he could seek as much as $20 million from the actress for breaching the nondisclosure agreement.