If it seems like the Stormy Daniels-Donald Trump saga is an endless game between lawyers (some of whom are very dumb), that’s because it is. On Monday, attorneys representing Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen and Trump made their latest play: a motion to have the case decided by a private arbitrator.
Brent Blakely, the attorney for Michael Cohen, filed the 26-page motion on behalf of “Essential Consultants LLC,” the private company Cohen set up to pay off Daniels in exchange for her silence ahead of the 2016 presidential election.
Essential Consultants LLC on Monday filed a request to send the lawsuit to arbitration per the terms of the agreement with Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford. There was nothing unconscionable about the deal she made, in which she received $130,000 in exchange for her silence, according to the filing.
“There is no evidence that Clifford was forced to enter into the settlement agreement, had no meaningful choice to do so, or had no choice but to accede to the terms of the arbitration clause as drafted,” according to the request to compel arbitration. “Clifford had the power to walk away, the power to negotiate the terms of the agreement, and only entered into the agreement after she unsuccessfully attempted to sell her story for $200,000.”
Trump joined the motion:
Politico noted that although Daniels’ request to have Trump and Cohen deposed was denied last week, U.S. District Court Judge James Otero “suggested he would reconsider the issue once Trump’s side made a formal motion to enforce the alleged arbitration agreement.”
Not surprisingly, Michael Avenatti, the lawyer said he’d fight the attempt to have the case decided by a private arbitrator.
“We will vigorously oppose the just-filed motion by Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen to have this case decided in a secret arbitration, in a private conference room, purposely hidden from the American public,” Avenatti told Bloomberg in an email. “This is a democracy and this matter should be decided in an open court of law owned by the people.”