U.S. President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen indicated Wednesday he would assert his constitutional Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in his case against adult film actress Stormy Daniels, a move Trump has said implies guilt.
Cohen has been asking a federal judge in Los Angeles to delay the case after FBI agents raided his home and office earlier this month, seeking records about a nondisclosure agreement Daniels signed days before the 2016 presidential election.
Cohen admitted to paying $130,000 to the porn star, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, to buy her silence about the sexual relationship she claims to have had with Trump. Daniels has sued to get out of the nondisclosure agreement.
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Trump’s lawyer said in a filing in Los Angeles federal court that he would assert his Fifth Amendment right, something Trump has bashed on a number of occasions.
During his run for the White House, Trump slammed Hillary Clinton staffers who invoked their Fifth Amendment rights when requested to testify during Clinton’s email scandal.
“So there are five of them taking the Fifth Amendment, like you see on the mob, right?” Trump said at campaign rally in Iowa. “The mob takes the Fifth Amendment. If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?”
The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that no individual can be “compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.”
Daniels lawyer, Michael Avenatti, commented on Cohen’s plan to please the Fifth, calling it a “stunning development.”
“Never before in our nation’s history has the attorney for the sitting President invoked the 5th Amend in connection with issues surrounding the President,” Avenatti tweeted Wednesday. “It is esp. stunning seeing as MC served as the ‘fixer’ for Mr. Trump for over 10 yrs.”
In 2014, when news of sexual assault allegations against Bill Cosby began to surface, Trump suggested on Twitter that if the comedian is innocent, he should talk.
“I am no fan of Bill Cosby but never-the-less some free advice – if you are innocent, do not remain silent,” Trump tweeted. “You look guilty as hell!”
Trump has denied having an affair with Daniels or any knowledge of the $130,000 payment.
–with a files from the Associated Press
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