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US prosecutors cancel Stormy Daniels meeting in Cohen probe

In this April 16, 2018, file photo, adult film actress Stormy Daniels speaks outside federal court, in New York.

In this April 16, 2018, file photo, adult film actress Stormy Daniels speaks outside federal court, in New York.   | Photo Credit: AP

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Adult film actor Stormy Daniels was scheduled to meet with federal prosecutors in New York on Monday as part of their investigation into President Donald Trump’s longtime personal attorney, but the meeting was abruptly cancelled late Sunday after it was reported by news organisations, her attorney said.

Ms. Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, was supposed to meet with prosecutors from the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan in preparation for a possible grand jury appearance as they work to assemble a case against Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.

But after several news organizations, including The Associated Press, reported on the meeting, two prosecutors called Ms. Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, and told him that they were concerned about media attention in the case, he said.

“I was shocked at that response,” Mr. Avenatti said.

    Stormy Daniels has said she had sex with U.S. President Donald Trump in 2006

    She was paid $130,000 by Mr. Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen in 2016

    This was part of a confidentiality agreement

Mr. Avenatti offered to move the meeting to another location and reiterated that Ms. Daniels — who he says has been cooperating with prosecutors for months — was ready to go forward with the meeting, but they called back to cancel it, he said.

The meeting has not been rescheduled and prosecutors offered no other explanation for the cancellation, he said.

Ms. Daniels has said she had sex with Mr. Trump in 2006 when he was married, which Mr. Trump has denied. As part of their investigation into Mr. Cohen, prosecutors have been examining the $130,000 payment that was made to Ms. Daniels as part of a confidentiality agreement days before the 2016 presidential election.

“We believe canceling the meeting because the press has now caught wind of it is ridiculous,” Mr. Avenatti wrote in an email to Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicolas Roos.

“We do not think it was any secret that at some point you were going to meet with my client.” A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan had declined to comment on the meeting earlier Sunday night and did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment on the cancellation.

Ms. Daniels is suing to invalidate the confidentiality agreement that prevents her from discussing the alleged relationship with Mr. Trump. She argues the nondisclosure agreement should be invalidated because Mr/ Cohen, signed it, but the president did not.

Ms. Daniels and Mr. Avenatti have also turned over documents in response to a subpoena from federal prosecutors about the $130,000 that she was paid, a person familiar with the matter said. They weren’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Ms. Daniels’ interview had been in preparation for a possible grand jury appearance in the federal investigation into Cohen’s business dealings, the person familiar with the matter said. If prosecutors bring a case to a grand jury, they could call witnesses to testify under oath and the grand jury would decide whether to bring criminal charges with a written indictment.

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Printable version | Dec 16, 2019 12:20:00 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/us-prosecutors-cancel-stormy-daniels-meeting-in-cohen-probe/article24252193.ece

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