A new report suggests that President Donald Trump tried to stop porn star Stormy Daniels from violating a nondisclosure agreement and going public about her alleged affair with the then-reality TV star.
Sources familiar with Trump's response to the breaking story about Daniels' supposed affair say that, back in February, Trump told Michael Cohen (who was then still his lawyer) to obtain a restraining order against the actress (whose real name is Stephanie Clifford) by way of confidential arbitration, according to The Wall Street Journal. This conversation is reported to have taken place shortly after Trump and Cohen learned about a potential media interview that Daniels was considering regarding her claims of having had an affair with Trump. Her October 2016 nondisclosure agreement was intended to keep her silent about the alleged sexual relationship.
The Journal's report elaborated on the events that happened after Trump learned about the interview:
Mr. Trump told Mr. Cohen to coordinate the legal response with Eric Trump, one of the president’s sons, and another outside lawyer who had represented Mr. Trump and the Trump Organization in other matters, the people said. Eric Trump, who is running the company with his brother in Mr. Trump’s absence, then tasked a Trump Organization staff attorney in California with signing off on the arbitration paperwork, these people said.
Direct involvement of the president and his son in the effort to silence Ms. Clifford hasn’t previously been reported. The accounts of that effort recently provided to The Wall Street Journal suggest that the president’s ties to his company continued into this year and contradict public statements made at the time by the Trump Organization, the White House and Mr. Cohen.
The Trump Organization had denied any involvement in the arbitration process between Trump and Daniels when initially asked about it in March. Then again, as Maggie Haberman of The New York Times tweeted, this would not be the first time that Trump and those associated with him had been caught in a lie.
"President or his aides: - insisted they knew nothing about payments and Nat Enquirer. Insisted he was not aware of payments made to Daniels beforehand. Suggested Cohen acted on his own. All have been shown to be untrue," Haberman tweeted on Tuesday.
In June, Salon spoke with Daniels' lawyer Michael Avenatti, who described why he thought Trump was afraid of his client.
There's no question that he knows my client is telling the truth because he was there and this happened," Avenatti told Salon. "I think 80 percent of Americans have viewed her "60 Minutes" interview and came away believing my client. I know people on the right that are staunch supporters of the president, and even they comment to me on how much credibility she had. How much they believed her as to what she said. In my view, there's zero question. She was telling the truth during that interview."
He added, "Mr. Trump knows it, I think the First Lady knows it. I think Mr. Giuliani knows it; they know exactly what happened here. I think Mr. Trump also knows that he participated in the cover-up relating to this $130,000 payment. He picked the wrong fixer to handle it. He picked the guy in Michael Cohen, who is not that tough and is a moron.