This week, a federal judge agreed to drop Stormy Daniels' case against Michael Cohen — and both sides seem to be declaring victory. Per NBC News, the case was dropped after Daniels' lawyer, Michael Avenatti, filed a request to dismiss Daniels' defamation claim against Cohen back in November. Now, both of Daniels' defamation cases (one against Trump, and one against Cohen) have been dismissed. But she still has a civil litigation case pending against POTUS, and Avenatti wants to make that clear.
In a statement to The Washington Post on Tuesday, Cohen's lawyer, Brent H. Blakely, argued that Cohen was the "prevailing party" in this situation. He said,
Rather than fighting in court, Ms. Daniels and her attorney instead chose to abandon the case — the legal equivalent of running away. When a plaintiff’s claim has been dismissed ‘with prejudice,’ the defendant, in this case Mr. Cohen, is the prevailing party. No amount of spin on behalf of Ms. Daniels or her attorney can alter this result.
Daniels' legal team doesn't exactly see it that way, though. In an emailed statement to The Washington Post on Tuesday, Avenatti wrote,
We asked that the minor defamation claim be dismissed and it was because the court sided with us and against Cohen. The court already stated we received everything we asked for because Cohen and Trump were forced to admit we were right all along relating to the NDA.
On Twitter, Avenatti further explained why Daniels had "won," indicating that she might have dropped the suit against Cohen for financial reasons while she continues to pursue her civil case against the president. This would make sense, given the almost $300,000 in legal fees a judge ordered Daniels to pay the president in October after dismissing her defamation suit.
Even then, Avenatti argued that Daniels wasn't necessarily losing the battle against Trump. He tweeted, "If Stormy has to pay $300k to Trump in the defamation case (which will never hold up on appeal) and Trump has to pay Stormy $1,500,000 in the NDA case (net $1,200,000 to Stormy), how is this a Trump win?”
On Tuesday, the lawyer explained Daniels' reasoning for withdrawing the lawsuit against Cohen on Twitter:
A lot of misreporting going on relating to the recent decision. The Court sided with Stormy against Cohen on the motion. We did not lose anything. We won the motion and Cohen lost across the board. The NDA case continues and the likelihood of large attys fees for Stormy is high.
Avenatti also took some time on Tuesday to acknowledge Daniels' efforts in the last few years, writing that the "ramifications resulting from the courage and actions" of Daniels would "reverberate for years on end." Avenatti concluded on Twitter, "She deserves significant respect and appreciation for what she put in motion."
As for Cohen, he's set to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Feb. 12, regarding the Senate's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, per the Associated Press. Cohen is scheduled to begin his three-year prison sentence in March.