Saturday, August 18, 2018
Politics

Stormy Daniels uncertain about fate of her ‘60 Minutes’ segment

Pornographic movie star Stormy Daniels said in an email Sunday "we will see what happens" to a taped segment she did with the CBS news show 60 Minutes as reports suggested that lawyers for President Donald Trump are trying to block the broadcast.

The most likely legal course for Trump’s attorneys would be to seek a court injunction to try to enforce the nondisclosure agreement Daniels signed when she accepted a $130,000 payment from Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. In the agreement, Daniels promised to keep quiet about an alleged affair she had with Trump in 2006.

CBS declined to comment Sunday on a BuzzFeed report that Trump’s attorneys are considering legal action. CBS said late last week that the interview with correspondent Anderson Cooper has not yet been scheduled.

BuzzFeed, quoting an anonymous source, said Trump’s lawyers "are preparing to file for a legal injunction to prevent it from airing."

In a brief email to the Washington Post, Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, declined to comment on any legal discussions. "All I can say is it was never going to air tonight (Sunday) and I guess we will see what happens," she said.

Michael Avenatti, her attorney, shared without comment BuzzFeed’s report on Twitter shortly after it was published.

Cohen did not respond to a request for comment.

An injunction would be the latest in a series of moves to silence Daniels, including a restraining order the president’s lawyers recently obtained.

Avenatti moved the hush agreement into public view Tuesday when he filed suit on Daniels’ behalf, claiming the contract was invalid because it did not have Trump’s signature.

The specter of a president who has made no secret of his hostility to the media trying to silence the porn star also raises constitutional concerns. Now that Trump is president, the existence of an extramarital relationship becomes a matter of public concern, according to C.J. Peters, dean of the University of Akron School of Law.

"A judicial ‘gag order’ against Ms. Daniels or CBS would constitute a ‘prior restraint’ of speech, which under First Amendment doctrine is almost never permissible," Peters said.

Daniels told her story to InTouch magazine reporter Jordi Lippe-McGraw in a May 2011 phone interview. The interview remained unpublished in the magazine’s archives. The celebrity magazine has not explained why it did not publish the story.

News of the alleged encounter appeared five months later on the Dirty, a gossip website.

InTouch published a 5,500-word transcript of the interview earlier this year, after the Wall Street Journal broke news of the hush agreement.

Karen Tynan, a San Francisco-based lawyer who has adult-industry clients, said she thought the president’s lawyers have few options to prevent the interview from airing, none of them good. "How does it look, not only legally but politically?" Tynan said. "If they succeed, it is a prior restraint of speech. If they fail, they look like they lost."

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