When you've got a civil matter overlapping with a criminal one, you may need to prioritize which fire to deal with first. A federal judge agrees in the case of Michael Cohen, approving on Friday a 90-day stay in the civil lawsuit against him and President Trump by Stephanie Clifford (aka porn star Stormy Daniels), the Washington Post reports. The reasoning: Trump's personal lawyer filed a declaration this week noting he intends to plead the Fifth in the Daniels case, as he fears answering questions in that matter could potentially implicate himself in the criminal probe against him in New York, per NPR. FBI agents working on the latter investigation carried out a raid on Cohen's home and office in early April, and because part of that mission was to seek documents related to Daniels' nondisclosure agreement, there may be "large potential factual overlap" with Daniels' civil case, per Otero.
"This is no simple criminal investigation," Otero noted Friday. "Whether or not an indictment is forthcoming, and the Court thinks it likely based on these facts alone, these unique circumstances counsel in favor of stay." Daniels' lawyer, Michael Avenatti, responded to Otero's ruling on Twitter, tweeting: "While we certainly respect Judge Otero's 90 day stay order based on Mr. Cohen's pleading of the 5th, we do not agree with it. We will likely be filing an immediate appeal to the Ninth Circuit early next week. Justice delayed is justice denied." He added to the New York Times that "we want to get the truth to the American people as quickly as possible." The Post, however, notes it's not unusual for those facing both civil and criminal issues to do exactly what Cohen's doing to avoid incrimination. The next hearing for the civil case has been set for July 27. (Read more Michael Cohen stories.)