Could a Missing Signature Depose the President?

Michael Avenatti's argument hinges on a blank signature line above the alias used for Donald Trump.

trump painting
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The nondisclosure agreement between Donald Trump and Stephanie Clifford, the adult film star better known as Stormy Daniels, contains a blank signature line above the alias used for Donald Trump. If Michael Avenatti, Daniels’ lawyer, has his way, this blank space could force Trump to testify about what he knew of the arrangement, writes The New York Times. 

Last week, Trump’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to several charges in federal court. Cohen was the one who structured the hush-money payment. In admitting to the scheme, Cohen not only implicated himself, but also his former boss, in violation of federal campaign-finance law. It is unclear still whether Trump, as president, can be held accountable for that offense. This is where the blank signature comes in. Avenatti filed a civil lawsuit against Trump and Cohen earlier this year, saying the agreement between them and his client was “null and void” because of the missing signature. That lawsuit was put on hold when Cohen invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination to avoid having to testify in the suit. Because of that, Avenatti promised to ask the judge to lift the stay to let him question Trump about Daniels.

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