Stormy Daniels’ suit against Michael Cohen and Donald Trump—plus Essential Consultants, the company Cohen created to arrange a $130,000 payoff to Daniels in exchange for her nondisclosure agreement-enforced silence on the topic of an affair with Trump—is getting interesting again. Cohen, of course, recently stated that he made the payment at Trump’s request. Once raring to arbitrate and/or litigate, both Cohen and Trump are now trying to kill the case. Daniels, meanwhile, still wants the court to declare the NDA invalid and award her attorney’s fees.
On Sept. 24, Judge James Otero of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California announced that the next step will be determining whether there’s something to litigate. He set a deadline of Oct. 8 for defendants to file their arguments. Daniels will then have until until Oct. 26 to respond. Any response from Cohen, Essential Consultants, or Trump is due by Nov. 7. The hearing will be Dec. 3.
Trump just met that first deadline: He’s motioning for Daniels’ complaint against him to be dismissed. He’s conceding that the NDA is invalid, that there was no contract, and agreeing not to sue on that basis. Daniels’ primary purpose in suing was to secure a declaration that the contract hadn’t been formed, he argues, thus this concession should end her suit, at least with respect to him. Because the court no longer has jurisdiction in the absence of a controversy, it can’t even order him to pay Daniels’s attorney’s fees, he claims.
Here’s a key passage, emphasis Trump’s:
Mr. Trump does not contest Plaintiff’s assertion that the Settlement Agreement was never formed, which is the primary relief sought in the [First Amended Complaint]. All other relief is pled in the alternative. In any event, it is settled law that Mr. Trump’s covenant not to sue Plaintiff to enforce the Settlement Agreement divests the Court of subject matter jurisdiction, without the entry of any judgment.
Trump’s more likely to succeed in disentangling himself than Cohen. Essential Consultants, LLC, took a more problematic tack: On Sept. 7, EC agreed to the rescission of the NDA and offered a promise not to sue, aka a covenant. Daniels argues that that’s not the relief she was seeking, as it’s not the same as finding the contract invalid. An offer of rescission doesn’t end the case, she says, not in the least because rescission would mean returning the $130,000, though she’d offered to do so already.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.