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Judge halts Stormy Daniels effort to depose Trump

A federal judge in California on Thursday temporarily blocked an effort by the attorney for adult-film star Stormy Daniels to depose President TrumpDonald TrumpHead of firms that pushed 'Italygate' theory falsely claimed VA mansion was her home: report Centrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting VA moving to cover gender affirmation surgery through department health care MORE and his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, over a $130,000 payment from Cohen to the actress before the 2016 presidential election.

Judge S. James Otero said attorney Michael Avenatti was "premature" in his motion to depose Trump and Cohen over the payment, which the actress said was aimed at keeping her quiet about an alleged extramarital affair with Trump years ago, CNN reported.

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The judge, who was appointed by former President George W. Bush, noted in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California that Trump and the shell company Cohen established to process the payment to Daniels has stated its intent to file a petition to compel arbitration, though they have not yet filed the petition.

The decision is not final, however, and Avenatti said on Twitter that he will refile the motion upon the liability company's move.

Avenatti filed the motion to the court last week, seeking answers from Trump as to whether he knew of the "hush money" agreement or approved of it and whether the payment issued in October 2016 was meant to mitigate a potential threat to the Trump campaign.

The motion also listed "targeted requests for the production of documents directed to Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen on various topics relating to the hush agreement."

The attorney also asked the judge for an expedited trial on the case in which Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, is suing Trump and Cohen for defamation and seeking to void a nondisclosure agreement she signed days before the 2016 election.

Daniels claims that because Trump did not sign the agreement it should be deemed null, allowing her to speak freely about the affair she claims to have had with Trump in 2006, a year after he married first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpJill Biden, Kate Middleton visit school together in first meeting Jill Biden wears 'LOVE' jacket 'to bring unity' to meeting with Boris Johnson White House gets back to pre-COVID-19 normality MORE.

Cohen claims that he made the $130,000 payment out of his own pocket and outside of the Trump Organization, the Trump family business where he has worked.

The White House has also suggested Trump was unaware of the payment by Cohen and that the president denies the alleged affair.