By Brendan Pierson
NEWYORK (Reuters) – Michael Cohen, a longtime personal lawyer of U.S. President Donald Trump, on Friday asked a judge to bar adult film star Stormy Daniels’ lawyer from intervening in Cohen’s legal attempt to limit prosecutors’ review of documents seized from his home and office.
Michael Avenatti had asked U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood in Manhattan for permission to appear in the case in order to represent the interests of his client, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford. Daniels has said she was paid $130,000 by Cohen to keep a sexual encounter with Trump secret.
In a court filing on Friday, however, Cohen’s lawyers said Avenatti should not be allowed to appear in the case because he had made numerous “inaccurate statements” in public about Cohen, violating court rules.
The filing also said Avenatti had publicized information about Cohen’s financial transactions that was “accurate” but had “no lawful source.” The New Yorker reported on Wednesday that a law enforcement official had leaked financial records relating to Cohen.
“Mr Avenatti appears to be primarily focussed on smearing Mr Cohen publicly in his efforts to further his own interest in garnering as much media attention as possible,” Cohen’s lawyers said in the filing. They said Avenatti had appeared on national television and talked about Cohen 147 times in the past 10 weeks, sometimes making inaccurate statements.
Avenatti in an email called Cohen’s filing “baseless,” but said he was “pleased they admit the factual accuracy of what we previously disclosed.”
Avenatti has publicly discussed transactions between Cohen and companies including drugmaker Novartis AG and Columbus Nova LLC, a New York-based investment firm linked to Russian businessman Viktor Vekselberg.
The case before Wood concerns authorities’ search of documents from Cohen’s home and office as part of a criminal investigation. Wood has appointed a special master to review the documents to identify those that may be protected by attorney-client privilege.
The investigation into Cohen stems in part from a referral from Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating whether Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign colluded with Russia. Trump has denied any collusion.
(Reporting By Brendan Pierson, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)