Washington, April 28 (IANS) A US judge has halted for 90 days a lawsuit by adult film actress Stormy Daniels against US President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen.
Judge James Otero said Mr Cohen’s constitutional rights could be endangered if the case proceeded while he was under criminal investigation, BBC reported on Friday.
Daniels is seeking to end a non-disclosure deal signed over an alleged sexual encounter with Trump in 2006.
Cohen had said he would invoke his right to remain silent over the case.
He had argued that any statement he made in court could affect a criminal inquiry in New York into his business affairs.
As part of the investigation into the Daniels case, the FBI raided Mr Cohen’s offices for information, including on the non-disclosure agreement the actress – whose real name is Stephanie Clifford – signed days before the 2016 presidential election.
District Judge Otero in Los Angeles said there was “a large potential factual overlap” between the civil and criminal proceedings against Mr Cohen.
He said that “would heavily implicate Cohen’s Fifth Amendment rights”, in a reference to the Constitution’s protection against self-incrimination.
Lawyers for Cohen had earlier asked for the Daniels case to be put on hold for three months.
They had argued that their client faced a Catch-22 situation: giving evidence in Los Angeles might mean incriminating himself in New York; while invoking his right to silence in the civil suit could undermine his defence there.
It states that no individual can be “compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself”.
Invoking the amendment means Cohen will not have to reveal sensitive information in the wider investigation into his affairs.
A lawyer for Daniels, Michael Avenatti, earlier described Cohen’s move as a “stunning development”.