A company created by Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer has offered to rescind Stormy Daniels’ hush-money agreement and has scrapped a threatened $20m lawsuit against the porn actor and director for allegedly violating the deal.
A lawyer for Essential Consultants said the company wants Daniels, who claims a 2006 affair with Trump – which the president denies – to repay the $130,000 that was part of the nondisclosure agreement signed days before the 2016 presidential election, according to a letter included in a court filing late on Friday.
The offer would remove any legal risk to Daniels stemming from her public discussion of the alleged affair and the alleged efforts to hide it. But if a court were to find that the proposal resolved the underlying controversy in her litigation with ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, the development could kill efforts by Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, to try to compel the president to give sworn testimony.
Essential Consultants was set up by Cohen, who pleaded guilty in federal court last month to campaign-finance violations and other charges. Though Cohen originally denied having made a hush money payment to Daniels on behalf of Trump, he told the court that he and Trump arranged payments to both Daniels and a former Playboy model to influence the election.
In addition to the offer to quash the agreement, Essential Consultants also agreed to back off its plan to fight Daniels in private arbitration and will not pursue a lawsuit against her, Brent Blakely, an attorney for the company, said in a letter to Daniels’ lawyer. Cohen had said that Daniels could owe $20m for violating the agreement.
Avenatti said the development was “a stunt by Michael Cohen trying to fix it so that Donald Trump is not deposed”.
Avenatti said he did not have to accept the offer and would not settle the case “without the depositions”, which he said would include Trump. He believes the court should invalidate the agreement because it violated campaign finance laws, he said.
Regardless of how a court views the offer by Cohen’s company to drop efforts to enforce the agreement, Avenatti has other possible legal routes to pursue Trump. Daniels is also suing Trump and Cohen for defamation.