The New York Times is reporting that Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen plans to plead the Fifth if he’s called upon to be a witness in the lawsuit filed by Stormy Daniels. “Based on the advice of counsel, I will assert my 5th amendment rights in connection with all proceeding in this case due to the ongoing criminal investigation by the FBI and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York,” Cohen said in court documents obtained by The Hill.
Earlier this month, the FBI conducted a raid of Cohen’s office in Rockefeller Center, as well as his hotel room on Park Avenue. Among the items seized by authorities were documents related to a payment made to the adult film star. Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, is suing Cohen for defamation for alleging that she lied about her affair with Trump.
Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti responded to Cohen pleading the Fifth, calling his move a “stunning development.”
In an interview on CNN’s Erin Burnett OutFront, Avenatti believes that Cohen’s decision to invoke the Fifth Amendment will only help benefit Daniels in her case against Trump’s personal lawyer. “The fact finder—whether it be a jury or a judge—can find what is called a negative inference and what that means is that you can presume that if the witness answered the question instead of invoking his Fifth Amendment right that the answer would incriminate him that it would not be positive for him or her and that's a very serious matter," he said.
Cohen is allegedly under investigation for bank fraud, wire fraud, and campaign finance violations.