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Michael Cohen says he’ll plead the Fifth in the Stormy Daniels lawsuit

He cited the ongoing federal probe as he attempts to get the civil suit put on hold.

Trump's Personal Lawyer Michael Cohen Appears For Court Hearing Related To FBI Raid On His Hotel Room And Office
Michael Cohen
Yana Paskova/Getty Images
Jen Kirby is a senior foreign and national security reporter at Vox, where she covers global instability.

Michael Cohen, Trump’s attorney and fixer, said he will plead the Fifth in the ongoing lawsuit with porn star Stormy Daniels.

Cohen cited the ongoing federal criminal investigation that he’s caught up in when invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in documents filed in federal court on Wednesday. The FBI raided Cohen’s home, office, and hotel room on April 9, seizing documents and other materials, including those related to the $130,000 hush money payment that Cohen paid Daniels in October 2016 to prevent her from speaking publicly about an alleged affair she had with Donald Trump in 2006.

Daniels (whose real name is Stephanie Clifford) is suing Trump, saying the hush agreement she signed is invalid because the president himself never signed it. Trump has denied knowing anything about the $130,000 that Cohen paid to Daniels.

Michael Avenatti, Daniels’s attorney, called Cohen’s decision to plead the Fifth a “stunning development” in a tweet.

Cohen’s plea is not that stunning a development, considering he’s under criminal investigation, and anything said or discovered in the civil suit could potentially be used against him in the federal probe. Cohen asserted his Fifth Amendment right in backing up his petition last week to get the judge to put the Daniels lawsuit on hold because of the investigation by the FBI and the Southern District of New York.

The judge will make that decision based on whether there’s substantial overlap between the civil suit and the federal investigation. The “conundrum,” the judge said, according to CNN, is that “the scope and breadth of the criminal investigation remain a mystery.”

Cohen faces a hearing Thursday in the federal investigation, where he and his lawyers will present a plan to review documents seized by the FBI that might be protected by attorney-client privilege. According to Bloomberg, the judge in that case, Kimba Wood, has indicated she may appoint an independent party to review material Cohen or Trump say breaches that privilege.

Read Cohen’s court filing below or at this link.