Executive Branch

Could Stormy Daniels' lawsuit open the door to Trump depositions and a 'fishing expedition'?

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Stormy Daniels/Kobby Dagan (Shutterstock.com).

Stormy Daniels’ lawsuit against President Donald Trump “opens what could be a precarious new legal front” for the White House, the New York Times reports.

After all, the article points out, it was Paula Jones’ sexual harassment suit against Bill Clinton that led to impeachment proceedings for allegedly lying under oath about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky.

The suit claims the agreement signed by Daniels, which bars the porn star from disclosing “confidential information” regarding Trump, is null and void because Trump never signed it. The contract appears to be signed by Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, representing the company he formed to transfer $130,000 to Daniels.

If the case doesn’t get funneled into arbitration, Trump and Cohen may have to testify in depositions, several lawyers told the Times. The case could also bolster the contention that the six-figure payment to Daniels violated campaign reporting requirements because it amounted to a campaign contribution that was intended to influence the election.

Among the lawyers interviewed by the Times was Robert Bennett, who represented Clinton in the Jones suit. “A lawsuit opens the door, and judges almost always allow for a plaintiff to have a fishing expedition,” Bennett said. One potential question would be whether Trump has paid hush money to other people has well.

Georgetown University law professor law professor David Super told the Times that the aim may be to broaden the lawsuit to allege that Trump and Cohen coerced Daniels into silence. In a broader suit, “the wide array of Trump’s sexual interactions could be addressed, just as the wide array of Clinton’s sexual interactions was addressed in the Paula Jones case deposition,” he said.

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