Stormy Daniels sued Donald Trump and his attorney Michael Cohen last week in order to get the $130,000 “hush agreement” — designed to keep her alleged affair with President Donald Trump quiet in the lead-up to the 2016 election — declared null and void in a California court, because Trump never signed it. Also last week, we found out that Daniels (whose real name is Stephanie Clifford) would be interviewed on 60 Minutes by Anderson Cooper:
According to a BuzzFeed News report, that interview is supposed to air next Sunday, March 18, but Trump’s lawyers reportedly would very much prefer it not.
BuzzFeed’s Chris Geidner quotes a “person informed of the preparations” as saying lawyers are “preparing to file for a legal injunction to prevent it from airing.” A lawyer for Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal attorney who signed the agreement and has said the money to pay off Daniels came out of his own pocket, declined to comment on whether or not he’d seek an injunction.
As Geidner notes, however, Trump and his lawyers famously threaten to sue people all the time and don’t always end up following through with it. It’s also not clear how Trump’s lawyers could possibly make a convincing case that the interview shouldn’t air, considering established case law:
Any litigation aimed at stopping CBS News from airing Cooper’s interview likely would be an uphill battle, given protections for press freedom against prior restraints — most famously laid out in the Pentagon Papers case in which the Supreme Court ruled that the New York Times and the Washington Post could publish, over the objections of the Nixon administration, classified documents that detailed the history of US decision-making on Vietnam.
Complicating any effort to stop the airing of Clifford’s interview would be the fact that 60 Minutes is not a party to Clifford’s 2016 settlement.
On Friday, Clifford’s lawyer, Michael Avenatti, told Cooper on CNN that Daniels would pay back the $130,000 she was paid to keep quiet in order to be able to “speak openly and honestly” about the affair, or if Cohen and Trump admit that Trump knew about the deal. Avenatti also said that Americans have a right to hear Daniels’s story because “cover-ups matter.”
“The cover-up is that you have Cohen claiming that Donald Trump never knew anything about this. You have the White House claiming Donald Trump never knew anything about this,” Avenatti told Cooper. “That is going to be shown to be patently false.”