Trump Lawyers Hustle To Stop Stormy’s ’60 Minutes’ Interview

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Kevin Daley Supreme Court correspondent
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CBS news magazine “60 Minutes” will air an interview with Stephanie Clifford, who appears in pornographic films under the name “Stormy Daniels,” March 18, prompting President Donald Trump’s lawyers to consider legal action against the network.

Though Clifford is bound to silence by a preliminary restraining order, any preemptive action against the network is likely to fail.

An unnamed source with knowledge of the Trump legal team’s plans told BuzzFeed News that they hope to stop the interview’s publication, and will seek an injunction barring the broadcast.

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“We understand from well-placed sources they are preparing to file for a legal injunction to prevent it from airing,” the source said.

Anderson Cooper, who is a correspondent for the program in addition to his duties at CNN, conducted the interview.

As the BuzzFeed report notes, though Trump’s lawyers affect an aggressive posture, often they do not ultimately pursue legal action. For example, Marc Kasowitz, longtime counsel for the Trump family, threatened to sue The New York Times for publishing excerpts of the president’s 1995 tax return during the 2o16 campaign. The returns were published, and no lawsuit ever came.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders revealed March 7 that Trump’s lawyers won a preliminary restraining order against Clifford during private arbitration in late February. The order forbids Clifford from disclosing any information relating to the October 2016 hush agreement between her and Trump attorney Michael Cohen.

Michael Avenatti, Clifford’s lawyer, said he does not consider the Feb. 27 decision valid. The order does not preclude her from answering general questions about herself in the press, or addressing other matters not mentioned by the hush agreement.

The contract, known as a nondisclosure agreement, was executed Oct. 28, 2016. Under its terms, Clifford agreed not to disclose her alleged affair with the president from summer 2006 to early 2007, in exchange for a $130,000 payment from a shell company in Delaware.

Any effort to suppress the interview in advance is unlikely to succeed.

The preemptive restriction of speech is called “prior restraint,” and federal courts have long considered it unlawful on constitutional principles.

In one 1976 Supreme Court case, Nebraska Press Association v. Stuart, a unanimous Court noted that the presumption against prior restraint is stronger than any other speech restriction.

“The thread running through all these cases is that prior restraints on speech and publication are the most serious and the least tolerable infringement on First Amendment rights,” the ruling reads.

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