Donald Trump’s attorney got a secret restraining order against adult film star Stormy Daniels last month to block her from speaking publicly about her alleged 2006 affair with Trump.
The revelation came a day after Daniels (whose real name is Stephanie Clifford) filed a lawsuit against Trump, claiming that the October 2016 nondisclosure agreement — which paid Daniels $130,000 in exchange for her silence about her encounter with Trump — is void because Trump never signed it. The suit also claims that Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen “surreptitiously initiated a bogus arbitration proceeding” on February 27 to keep her quiet.
It turns out that on February 27, Cohen won a temporary restraining order against Clifford from a private arbitrator to stop her from talking about the contents of the nondisclosure agreement, NBC News and the New York Times reported. Cohen also initiated arbitration proceedings with Daniels last week, saying she had violated the nondisclosure agreement.
Daniels’s attorney, Michael Avenatti, told NBC News on Wednesday that Cohen hasn’t let up the pressure. “Earlier today, Mr. Cohen through his attorney, Mr. Rosen, further threatened my client in an effort to prevent her from telling the truth about what really happened,” he said. “We do not take kindly to these threats.”
Cohen is trying to enforce the terms of the NDA — but Daniels’s lawsuit claims the deal is invalid. Her suit alleges that she and Trump entered into this agreement under pseudonyms: Daniels as “Peggy Peterson” and Trump as “David Dennison.” But the line where Dennison, a.k.a. Trump, was supposed to sign is blank:
The lawsuit also claims that in the wake of the Access Hollywood tape, when multiple other women came forward with sexual misconduct allegations against Trump, Daniels wanted to tell her story publicly. That got the attention of the Trump campaign, the lawsuit says, and Cohen “aggressively sought to silence Ms. Clifford [Daniels] as part of an effort to avoid her telling the truth, thus helping to ensure he won the Presidential Election.” Daniels entered what she calls a “hush agreement” on October 28, just days before the 2016 election.
What’s Stormy Daniels’s connection to Trump again?
This lawsuit piles onto the slow-burning saga that began in earnest after the Wall Street Journal reported in January that Trump’s attorney Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 in hush money a month before the 2016 presidential election to cover up an alleged affair Trump had with the porn actress in 2006 at a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe. Shortly after that, In Touch magazine published a 2011 interview with Daniels that included some salacious details about a rendezvous with Trump.
Trump has denied the affair, and Daniels herself has appeared contradictory on the details. She denied the affair before an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, then seemed to cast doubt on her own denial on the show.
But in the lawsuit, Daniels doesn’t just say she had a sexual encounter with Trump — she says they carried on an affair until 2007, including a “meeting” with Trump at a bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
Cohen admitted he paid Daniels $130,000, telling the New York Times he did so with his own money and wasn’t reimbursed by the Trump Organization or the Trump campaign. He made the acknowledgment, in part, because the transaction had been scrutinized by watchdog groups that pointed out the transaction was a possible campaign finance violation.
The White House remained quiet about the alleged affair — until Wednesday. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump denied having an affair with Daniels and knowing that Cohen had paid her $130,000.