Trump Lawyers Consider Legal Action To Stop CBS From Airing Stormy Daniels Interview

Anderson Cooper has interviewed adult film star Stormy Daniels for 60 Minutes, but lawyers for President Trump are apparently considering legal action to stop the report from airing.

Buzzfeed’s Chris Geidner is reporting that lawyers representing Donald Trump are considering taking legal action to prevent 60 Minutes from broadcasting an interview with Stephanie Clifford, known professionally as adult film star Stormy Daniels, regarding her relationship with President Trump and the agreement she entered into less than a month before the 2016 election to remain quiet:

Lawyers associated with President Donald Trump are considering legal action to stop “60 Minutes” from airing an interview with Stephanie Clifford, the adult film performer and director who goes by Stormy Daniels, BuzzFeed News has learned.

“We understand from well-placed sources they are preparing to file for a legal injunction to prevent it from airing,” a person informed of the preparations told BuzzFeed News on Saturday evening.

It was not immediately clear what legal argument the lawyers would be making to support the considered litigation, and Trump and his legal team often have threatened litigation without following through on those threats in the past.

Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal attorney who previously was a longtime lawyer for the Trump Organization, directed questions about the possibility of litigation to Larry Rosen, who Cohen told BuzzFeed News is “my attorney handling this matter.” Rosen — a partner in the firm LaRocca, Hornik, Rosen, Greenberg & Blaha — acknowledged his role in the matter generally but did not comment directly on the possibility of seeking an injunction.

BuzzFeed News has learned that CBS plans to air the 60 Minutes interview with Clifford next Sunday, March 18.

An action to try to prevent the interview from airing would be the latest in a flurry of developments in a case that began just before the 2016 election when Cohen paid Clifford $130,000 in return for her silence about a sexual relationship she allegedly had with Trump in 2006. At the time, Trump was under intense pressure over comments he’d made about his treatment of women in the run-up to the vote.

There hasn’t been any direct confirmation that the CBS news magazine is planning to air an interview with Daniels. Neither the show’s web page nor its Twitter feed give any indication that there’s anything regarding the Daniels matter scheduled to be aired tonight, for example. However, it does appear that there is such an interview in the works. The first indication came when the attorney representing Daniels in the lawsuit that was filed last week that seeks to effectively nullify the confidentiality provisions of the October 2016 agreement that resulted in Daniels receiving $130,000 just weeks before the election posted a photo of himself, Daniels, and Anderson Cooper on his Twitter feed that tagged 60 Minutes. Cooper, of course, principally works as a reporter and host on CNN but he also contributes occasional pieces for 60 Minutes. Not long after the photograph was posted, CNN reported that Cooper had conducted an interview of Daniels that would air on 60 Minutes, although the report stated that it wasn’t clear when the interview would run. As Geidner indicates in his report, though, it appears that the interview will air on March 18th during that week’s episode of the long-running news magazine.

So far, there hasn’t been any comment from any of Trump’s attorneys or from Michael Cohen, the attorney and Trump Organization employee who arranged the October 2016 payment to Daniels, which he claims to have made on his own initiative out of his own funds. However, it seems clear that any action that would purport to try to prevent CBS from airing Cooper’s interview with Daniels would have very little chance of succeeding. As a preliminary matter, there’s the fact that neither Cooper individually nor CBS News are parties to the October 2016 agreement and, as such, are not bound by its terms. In and of itself, the confidentiality provisions in the settlement agreement do not give any of the parties the right to try to stop a member of the media from airing an interview with Daniels. All it does is provide that Daniels would be subject to damages if she breached that provision of the agreement, although it’s unclear whether a court would enforce that damages clause given the fact that Cohen himself has seemingly breached the agreement by talking about it publicly on several occasions.

Beyond the issues regarding the settlement agreement, there is a long history that shows that the First Amendment bars courts from engaging in what effective amounts to prior restraint of a matter of public interest. As far back as 1931 in Near v. Minnesotafor example, the Supreme Court ruled that an effort to bar publication of material that was deemed to be deeply bigoted against Catholics, Jews, African-Americans, and others was impermissible under the First Amendment. Forty years later, in New York Times Co. United States, a case dealing with the Federal Government’s efforts to bar publication of the Pentagon Papers in which the government attempted to argue that national security trumped Freedom of the Press. The Supreme Court rejected that provision in a 6-3 majority opinion that included this particularly memorable language from Justice Hugo Black in a concurring opinion:

[T]he injunction against The New York Times should have been vacated without oral argument when the cases were first presented… . [E]very moment’s continuance of the injunctions…amounts to a flagrant, indefensible, and continuing violation of the First Amendment. … The Government’s power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people. Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government. And paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people and sending them off to distant lands to die of foreign fevers and foreign shot and shell. … [W]e are asked to hold that…the Executive Branch, the Congress, and the Judiciary can make laws…abridging freedom of the press in the name of ‘national security.’ … To find that the President has ‘inherent power’ to halt the publication of news…would wipe out the First Amendment and destroy the fundamental liberty and security of the very people the Government hopes to make ‘secure.’ … The word ‘security’ is a broad, vague generality whose contours should not be invoked to abrogate the fundamental law embodied in the First Amendment. The guarding of military and diplomatic secrets at the expense of informed representative government provides no real security… . The Framers of the First Amendment, fully aware of both the need to defend a new nation and the abuses of the English and Colonial governments, sought to give this new society strength and security by providing that freedom of speech, press, religion, and assembly should not be abridged

Based on this strong case law, it seems fairly clear that any effort by Trump or by Cohen to stop CBS from airing Anderson Cooper’s interview with Daniels would ultimately fail. In fact, such an effort would only seem to guarantee that the interview would receive even more attention than it is likely to get in any case.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, Donald Trump, Politicians, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. teve tory says:

    Evangelical christians would sell H-bombs to Al Qaeda if it meant they could prohibit abortion and contraception. They are scum, and nothing Stormy Daniels could possibly say in an interview would diminish their support for trump.




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  2. @teve tory:

    You’re right of course, but that doesn’t mean the Daniels story isn’t important. Leaving aside the obvious salaciousness, there appear to be some serious campaign finance and money laundering allegations here that ought to be investigated.




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  3. James Pearce says:

    Maybe we should tell the Trump legal team about the Streisand Effect.

    Nah……let em squirm.




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  4. HarvardLaw92 says:

    They’ll certainly lose if they try this stunt, IMO, but secretly, I have to admit that I hope they do try.

    Doing so will 1) focus even more attention on this woman and her story, and 2) serve to undermine public perception of this clown among reachable voters. Both are things to smile about if you’re a Democrat.

    It will also put GOP members of Congress into an untenable position in the lead up up a midterm election, but smiling about that one as well just seems greedy 🙂




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  5. Kathy says:

    1) I wonder what the Orange Clown is so afraid of?

    2) I expect a novel legal theory that the 5th amendment is transferable.




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  6. Gustopher says:

    @teve tory: Its dumb and lazy to demonize all the prolifers like that. There is nothing that indicates that they would actually be willing to provide weapons of mass destruction to any terrorist organization.

    If you believe that abortion is murder, however, there are a lot of things you will grudging accept as less worse. I can honestly respect that, despite not thinking that a lump of tissue is a person yet.

    Now, the evangelicals who are gleefully supporting Trump, and who supported Trump over any of the other Republican candidates who were basically identical on abortion… those ones are just hypocrites. Those ones can be demonized.




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  7. Gustopher says:

    Given that everyone already knows about the affair, and the payout, what is Trump so worried will come out?

    Is it just a little thing?

    Did he pay for someone to have a perfectly legal medical procedure?




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  8. Mike Schilling says:

    I expect most of us remember 60 Minutes backing down on airing the Jeffrey Wigand interview because Brown and Williamson threatened to sue them for (literally) billions for encouraging Wigand to violate his NDA. B&W didn’t try for prior restraint, because that wouldn’t have worked any better than it will here.




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  9. CSK says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    I think the reachable voters have already been reached. How great a number of them that constitutes, I don’t know. The evangelicals have already sold their shriveled little souls to him.

    @Kathy: “What is the orange clown so afraid of?” I don’t know. She did claim to be able to describe his junk, but I’m not sure if that’s it. From what she’s already said, he doesn’t have any outre or comical sexual proclivities. It might have been something he said to her.




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  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Gustopher:

    If you believe that abortion is murder, however, there are a lot of things you will grudging accept as less worse.

    Yes, like actual murder.

    As soon as you accept their logic and reasoning, you are down the rabbit hole.

    ETA: let me rephrase, as soon as you accept that their argument has ANY logic or reasoning, you are down the rabbit hole.




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  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Dick pics. The NDA specifically mentioned any images he may have transferred to her.




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  12. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Yes, but their encounter took place in 2006. As far as I recall, smartphones didn’t exist, then, nor was texting a big thing with the general public. Any pix she had would have to have been taken with a digital camera. Not impossible, of course. But it’s unlikely she or he had a smartphone at that point.




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  13. PJ says:

    @CSK:

    Yes, but their encounter took place in 2006. As far as I recall, smartphones didn’t exist, then, nor was texting a big thing with the general public. Any pix she had would have to have been taken with a digital camera. Not impossible, of course. But it’s unlikely she or he had a smartphone at that point.

    There were a lot of phones with cameras in 2006 and MMS had been around for a couple of years.

    Edit: a link with some mobile phones from 2006. They weren’t smart phones like those we have today, but they had cameras.

    And from 2005, notice that almost all got cameras.




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  14. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @CSK:

    I think the reachable voters have already been reached.

    And I would agree, except the point here isn’t to reach them. It’s to motivate them to get their well-fed behinds up out of their Barcaloungers in November to vote – against the GOP.




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  15. JohnMcC says:

    @CSK: I would bet that a sizable percentage of the porn-using population is certain that a video of Pres Trump doing his best with Ms Clifford was made. For the largest portion of Mr Trump’s (male) constituency that is perfectly obvious because it’s what THEY would do given the opportunity. Who knows? There might be a little scene involving white powder, anything!

    The Trump Org is certainly investing a great deal of cash, time and political risk in keeping it buttoned up.




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  16. Gustopher says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Yes, like actual murder.

    And the murder of Dr. Tiller was condemned, even by the vast majority of prolifers. A small minority were able to make the moral calculus that one death was less worse than the deaths of everyone he would abort in the future.

    This isn’t crazy, outlandish stuff. We make calculations like that all the time. If we had the option for a clean air strike to destroy North Korea’s nuclear weapons capacity, including the physicists, we would do it.

    Now, I happen to think that one doesn’t become a functioning human being before the age of 22 or so, but the simple truth is that we don’t really understand what consciousness even is, let alone when it starts.

    Fine, 22 might be a bit old, but newborn infants just aren’t done yet. They’re human larva.




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  17. Mister Bluster says:

    …but the simple truth is that we don’t really understand what consciousness even is…

    god believers are not interested in consciousness which I would contend exists in the natural realm of our brains, they are worried about such supernatural nonsense as the “human soul”. an illusion for which there is no credible evidence.




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  18. RGardner says:

    For a Pacific NorthWest perspective on the lawyer behind all this

    https://www.seattletimes.com/business/retail/tullys-coffee-owner-is-stormy-daniels-legal-counsel/
    This is Tabloid material, and you folks are falling all over it because you WANT to believe.

    Disclaimer, I’ve been a customer at a recently shuttered Tully’s location.




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  19. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Digital cameras have been around for some time. PCs even longer. And before them was Polaroid.




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  20. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Gustopher:

    And the murder of Dr. Tiller was condemned, even by the vast majority of prolifers.

    There may even have been a few sincere condemnations but they all rang hollow to me.

    This isn’t crazy, outlandish stuff. We make calculations like that all the time. If we had the option for a clean air strike to destroy North Korea’s nuclear weapons capacity, including the physicists, we would do it.

    Apples and oranges.

    Now, I happen to think that one doesn’t become a functioning human being before the age of 22 or so, but the simple truth is that we don’t really understand what consciousness even is, let alone when it starts.

    Fine, 22 might be a bit old, but newborn infants just aren’t done yet. They’re human larva.

    Heh. I think you and I know some of the same 22 yr olds.




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  21. CSK says:

    Breaking: Daniels is offering to pay back the 130 grand so she can speak freely.

    @JohnMcC:

    I’m sure there could be a movie. Or photos. But..would any of those things really dissuade a hard-core Trumpkin?




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  22. teve tory says:

    teve tory says:
    Sunday, March 11, 2018 at 15:02
    Evangelical christians would sell H-bombs to Al Qaeda if it meant they could prohibit abortion and contraception.

    Well this is interesting:

    At the rally, Fisher laid out his “plan for abolishing abortion in Oklahoma.” As soon as he takes office, he said, he will call an emergency session of the state legislature and “ask for a bill on my desk that criminalizes abortion as murder, and I’ll sign it.”

    After that bill is signed, he said, he “will instruct law enforcement officials to immediately close every abortion facility in Oklahoma in accordance with their sworn oaths of office” and then “instruct those law enforcement officers that if they find someone attempting to perform or performing an abortion that next day, they’ll be arrested for attempted or committed murder.”
    Next, he says, he “will ignore all court orders” regarding the abortion recriminalization and “advise Oklahoma officials to ignore any federal court summons.” Then he would “call for judicial reform which will remove the power of judicial review from the courts.”

    OK Gov. Candidate Promises to Ignore Courts on Abortion




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  23. Joe says:

    I think Clifford/Daniels’ lawyer has Cohen over a barrel and it makes me laugh. Cohen is not a party to the agreement, so he is in no legal position to enforce it. (I don’t know what arbitrator would have issued an injunction on that.) To enforce the agreement, he needs a client. If not Dennison/Trump, who is the client? Normally, a party to an agreement in Trump’s position would just sign a copy now and this suit would be over (subsequent breaches aside). But I don’t think that Trump can refuse to acknowledge or sign the deal and yet enforce it. I think Clifford/Daniels gives the money back and on we go. See ya on 60 Minutes.

    There were several better ways Cohen could have created the agreement to keep Trump out of it. This lawyering was just brain dead.

    Having said all that, it still makes me wonder what they don’t want Clifford/Daniels to say. That Trump was engaging in extramarital sex will come as a shock to nobody. If he weren’t fighting this, no one would care what she said. Just the layers of bad lawyering here are fascinating.




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  24. matt bernius says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    except the point here isn’t to reach them. It’s to motivate them to get their well-fed behinds up out of their Barcaloungers in November to vote – against the GOP.

    The other thing to consider is how this will *demotivate* middle of the road GOP voters — i.e. the people who would never pull the ticket for a Democrat, but will opt not to vote.

    The reality is that’s a critical part of Moore’s loss in AL — traditional supporters didn’t show up. That’s the fear that the GOP as it’s what caused them problems in 2006.




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