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Michael Cohen firm seeks to void nondisclosure agreement with Stormy Daniels

September 7, 2018 at 11:39 PM

In April, adult-film star Stormy Daniels speaks outside federal court in New York. (Mary Altaffer/Associated Press)

The company created by President Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen sought Friday to void the nondisclosure agreement at issue in a lawsuit filed by Stormy Daniels, the adult-film actress who was paid to keep quiet about her alleged affair with Trump ahead of the 2016 election.

The move by Essential Consultants seeks to avoid further litigation over the nondisclosure agreement, which was negotiated by Cohen on Trump’s behalf.

The news was first reported by CNN.

A lawyer for the company, Brent Blakely, stated in a legal filing that he “seeks the rescission of the Confidential Settlement Agreement dated October 28, 2016.”

The filing included a promise signed by Cohen not to sue Daniels over claims that she breached the contract. Cohen also reserved the right to seek reimbursement from Daniels, also known as Stephanie Clifford, for the $130,000 she was paid for her silence.

“Today Essential Consultants LLC and Michael Cohen have effectively put an end to the lawsuits filed against them by Stephanie Clifford aka Stormy Daniels,” Blakely said in an emailed statement. “The rescission of the Confidential Settlement Agreement will result in Ms. Clifford returning to Essential Consultants the $130,000 she received in consideration.”

Michael Avenatti, Daniels’s lawyer, said the filing will have no effect without buy-in from Trump.

“This is going nowhere,” Avenatti said in an interview. “Trump hasn’t offered anything. He would have to agree for the NDA to be void.”

Avenatti said Blakely’s strategy is designed to protect Trump and Cohen from being deposed in the case, which could reveal more unflattering information about payments to women during the presidential campaign.

“It’s an absolute stunt by Michael Cohen in an effort to protect Donald Trump,” Avenatti said. He later tweeted that he and Daniels “will never settle the cases absent full disclosure and accountability.”

The nondisclosure agreement case has been stayed for months amid the federal investigation into Cohen’s businesses. The two sides are due in a Los Angeles federal court on Sept. 24 for a status conference.

Cohen pleaded guilty to eight charges last month and said he acted at Trump’s direction when he arranged hush-money payments to two women before the 2016 election.

Alice Crites contributed to this report.

Correction: The original version of this article gave the incorrect date for the next status conference in the nondisclosure agreement case. It has been rescheduled to Sept. 24.


Elise Viebeck is a political enterprise and investigations reporter. She joined The Washington Post in 2015.

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