Donald Trump, Michael Cohen Seek Pause of Stormy Daniels Lawsuit on 5th Amendment Grounds

They will be filing an application that argues the facts of the case overlap with a criminal investigation.
Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images; Alex Wong/Getty Images
Stormy Daniels, President Donald Trump

President Donald Trump and his personal attorney Michael Cohen will be filing an application on Friday to pause the Stormy Daniels lawsuit.

Daniels, born Stephanie Clifford, is of course the porn star who alleges that the $130,000 agreement she signed to remain silent about an alleged affair is void. The case appeared to be headed towards arguments about whether it should be arbitrated, but thanks to a stunning FBI raid on Cohen's office and residence earlier this week, the lawsuit is now taking an abrupt turn.

In a filing Thursday in California federal court, the parties told the judge that the application to stay the case will be made "on the grounds that an ongoing criminal investigation overlaps with the facts of this case, and implicates Defendant Michael Cohen's Fifth Amendment rights."

Reportedly, documents and communications related to payments to Daniels as well as former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal were some of the things that federal law enforcement were after when raiding Cohen's office. To obtain a warrant, federal prosecutors in New York had to show probable cause and because they were going after a lawyer's communications — and especially, Trump's lawyer's communications — they likely had to show much more given both the privileged and politically sensitive nature of the documents in question.

Now, Cohen is set to argue that to participate in the Stormy Daniels suit will violate his right not to incriminate himself. Although Trump's own 5th Amendment rights aren't at issue, he appears to be joining the bid to delay the case.

The stipulation between the parties lays out that the application is to be filed before Friday at 6 p.m., with Daniels having until late Monday to make an opposition.

The judge recently admonished the parties to meet and confer with each other before making filings in the case — and that apparently happened here as Michael Avenatti, the plaintiff's attorney, first leaked what would happen in an appearance Thursday afternoon on MSNBC.