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Stormy Daniels wants judge to force Trump to testify in hush-money case

Stormy Daniels during an interview with Anderson Cooper on "60 Minutes."
(CBS News)

Stormy Daniels asked a federal judge Wednesday to order President Trump to testify in a deposition about the $130,000 paid to the porn star just before the 2016 election to buy her silence about an alleged affair with Trump.

In papers filed in Los Angeles federal court, Daniels’ attorney argued that Trump needs to be asked what he knew about the nondisclosure agreement and whether he approved it.

The attorney, Michael Avenatti, requested up to two hours to interrogate Trump.

He tried to cast doubt on the assertion of Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, that he used his own money to facilitate the payment to Daniels 11 days before the November 2016 presidential election. Avenatti also is seeking to depose Cohen, who set up the shell company that paid Daniels the $130,000.

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Avenatti outlined a series of questions that he wants to explore with the president.

Did Trump reimburse Cohen?

Did Trump consent to the obligations imposed on him by the confidentiality agreement, such as his promise not to sue Daniels if she kept quiet?

If Trump was completely unaware of Cohen’s actions, Avenatti wrote in the court papers, “the question naturally arises as to how it would be possible for a ‘meeting of the minds’ to have occurred between parties where one of the parties does not even know about the existence of the agreement?”

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Daniels, 39, who is suing to cancel the confidentiality agreement, says Trump’s failure to sign it makes the contract invalid.

She also says it’s void because its underlying purpose was illegal: to circumvent the federal laws that cap campaign donations and require public disclosure of their source and amount.

Daniels and the ethics watchdog group Common Cause allege the $130,000 payment was an illegal campaign donation meant to keep voters from learning about Trump’s extramarital affair with the stripper and porn actress.

Trump has not spoken publicly about Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, but representatives of the president have denied her allegation that he had sex with her at a Lake Tahoe resort in 2006, the year after he married Melania Trump.

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Neither the White House press office nor Cohen responded to emails seeking comment on the request to depose the president.

michael.finnegan@latimes.com

Twitter: @finneganLAT

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UPDATES:

8:50 a.m.: This article was updated to include Stormy Daniels’ real name.

This article was originally published at 8:35 a.m.


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