It was revealed recently that Trump lawyers had actually responded and won an arbitration proceeding against adult film star Stephanie Clifford, aka Stormy Daniels, to stop her from talking about their relationship.
The fact that Sarah Huckabee Sanders acknowledged the arbitration proceeding, rather than deflecting, gave fuel to the scandal and legitimized there may actually be truth behind the allegations Clifford has made.
Now, the Trump legal team is preparing to stop a 60 Minutes interview with Clifford from airing.
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) March 8, 2018
BuzzFeed News reported a source informed them a legal injunction would be filed to stop the airing.
‘”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.’
However, there is no clear reason behind why the interview shouldn’t be aired. Furthermore, BuzzFeed noted Trump is well known for threatening legal action with no follow through.
This is not the first time, however, that Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen has tried to stop the press from reporting on the lurid story. In 2011, he threatened legal action against In Touch Weekly magazine.
‘Four former employees of the magazine told the Associated Press that Cohen had threatened to “aggressively pursue legal action” in connection with the planned story. The magazine, which then held back the story, published the full interview in February, following the Wall Street Journal’s reporting on the 2016 payment.’
What’s interesting about this case though is the fact that CBS could use the First Amendment against Trump to continue the airing. Back during the Nixon era, a similar situation popped up when the New York Times and the Washington Post attempted to publish documents related to the US entering Vietnam.
The Supreme Court ruled the New York Times and the Washington Post were free to release the information.
‘Any litigation aimed at stopping CBS News from airing Cooper’s interview likely would be an uphill battle, given protections for press freedom against prior restraints.’
Going back further in history, the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of publications publishing documents. Rather than stopping publication ahead of time, the Supreme Court ruled in 1931 that defamation cases could be filed after release instead. They ruled:
‘Subsequent punishment for such abuses as may exist is the appropriate remedy, consistent with constitutional privilege.’
Though Clifford may be held by her agreement with Trump (which could very well be illegitimate), CBS has the right to air the interview. In the questionable agreement made between Trump and Clifford, CBS is never mentioned. If ruled to be a valid contract, yes Clifford would be in trouble; however, CBS would not.
Based on previous court rulings by the Supreme Court, the Trump legal team has very little to stand on or argue with. Furthermore, they’ve attempted this trick before. When Michael Wolff released his book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, the Trump legal time did their best to stop the publication of the book. If anything, their action and public interest caused the book to be released earlier than scheduled, and people went nuts trying to get their hands on a copy.
If there is nothing to the Trump/Daniels affair, then the Trump team should be less conspicuous. They are making it look as if something IS there in her story, and that makes people want to hear it.
Featured image by Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images.