Despite his emphatic public denial that he’d ever had an affair with adult film star Stormy Daniels, a new report claims President Donald Trump personally directed an effort to stop Daniels from coming forward to tell her story while he was in the White House.
This past February, after rumors began circulating that she was preparing to publicly describe her sexual encounter with Trump, he ordered his then-attorney Michael Cohen to seek a restraining order through arbitration against Daniels, according to the Wall Street Journal. Trump also reportedly tapped his son Eric to help in the effort, which seems like a very normal thing a loving father would ask his child to do.
Trump’s hush money payments to Daniels in exchange for her silence about the affair formed the basis for a series of indictments against Cohen this summer, in which he pled guilty to tax evasion, making false statements to financial institutions, and federal campaign finance violations. In his guilty plea, Cohen explicitly named Trump as having directed the effort to silence Daniels ahead of the 2016 elections. But the Journal’s story is the first reported instance of Trump’s direct involvement in the subsequent legal wrangling over Daniels’ story after he became president.
From the Journal:
Jill Martin, a Trump Organization lawyer, was listed as counsel on the arbitration paperwork filed in Orange County, Calif., on Feb. 22. Five days later, an arbitrator privately issued a restraining order against Ms. Clifford, who ignored it and proceeded with her plans to publicly discuss the alleged affair.
Ms. Martin was asked to sign off on the arbitration documents by Mr. Rosen, who told her the request came from Eric Trump, according to the people familiar with the matter.
Mr. Rosen’s firm had prepared the documents for the arbitration proceeding, but an attorney licensed in California—one of the venues stipulated for resolution of any dispute under the contract—had to sign off on them while Mr. Rosen’s application to participate in the matter as an out-of-state lawyer was pending, Mr. Rosen said in an interview this week.
When the Journal contacted Ms. Martin and the Trump Organization in March about her involvement in the arbitration, she sought out Eric Trump for advice on how to respond, according to the people.
Eric Trump then approved a statement to the Journal drafted by Ms. Martin with input from Mr. Rosen and Alan Garten, the Trump Organization’s chief legal officer, these people said. The statement said Ms. Martin had facilitated the filing of the arbitration “in her individual capacity” and that “the company has had no involvement in the matter.”
Martin declined to comment to the Journal about their report, as did the president’s personal attorney, Jay Sekulow, and Lanny Davis, who represents Michael Cohen. I have reached out to the White House and will update if I hear back.
Daniels, meanwhile, has since described in great detail her affair with the president. Her book about everything that’s happened to her, Full Disclosure, was published this month.
Trump himself has not yet publicly responded to the Journal’s report. But given his repeated insistences that he both did not have sex with Daniels, and that subsequent payments to her in exchange for her silence were entirely legal, it seems safe to say that once again, the president is lying through his teeth.