The lawsuit that porn actress Stormy Daniels filed against President Trump to void her nondisclosure agreement over their alleged affair was dismissed Thursday by a federal judge in Los Angeles.
U.S. District Judge S. James Otero found that Daniels’ lawsuit was moot because she had already “received exactly what she wanted” when Trump and his former lawyer Michael Cohen agreed last September not to enforce the confidentiality pact. Otero declined her request for an order declaring the nondisclosure agreement invalid.
His 14-page ruling came one year after Daniels’ lawsuit against Trump set off a sex scandal that continues to pose serious legal and political threats to the president.
Federal prosecutors in New York say that Trump directed Cohen to make an illegal $130,000 payoff to Daniels just before the November 2016 presidential election to buy her silence about the alleged 2006 sexual encounter with Trump. Cohen pleaded guilty in August to eight felonies, including violating federal election law by making that payment.
When he testified before Congress last week, Cohen made public a $35,000 check that the president signed in August 2017, one of 11 payments that Trump made to reimburse him for the hush money, according to Cohen.
Otero’s ruling left open the possibility that Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, could be forced to return the $130,000 payoff to Cohen. Brent H. Blakely, Cohen’s lawyer, did not respond to emails seeking comment.
Trump attorney Charles Harder welcomed the judge’s ruling.
“Combined with the attorneys’ fees and sanctions award in the president’s favor totaling $293,000, the president has achieved total victory,” Harder said.
Otero ordered Daniels to pay Trump $293,000 in legal fees last year when he dismissed a separate defamation suit that she filed against the president.
Harder said Daniels had not yet paid Trump his legal fees. Trump has no plans to ask Cohen to return the $130,000 if Cohen winds up getting Daniels to pay it back, Harder said.
Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, declared victory in spite of the dismissal.
“The court found that Ms. Daniels received everything she asked for by way of the lawsuit — she won and we forced Trump and Cohen to cave,” he said.
On Twitter, Daniels recalled that Cohen and Trump initially threatened to force her to pay as much as $20 million in damages for breaking the nondisclosure agreement. They reversed course and vowed to never enforce the pact after Cohen admitted his crimes.