An assistant general counsel at the president’s flagship holding company intervened in arbitration proceeding in California to enforce a nondisclosure deal with former porn star
Documents marked “HIGHLY CONFIDENTIAL PROCEEDING” for the first time tie President Donald Trump’s flagship holding company to the continuing effort to silence a former adult-film actress who says she had an affair with Mr. Trump.
.. A Trump Organization lawyer, Jill A. Martin, is listed as counsel in an arbitration demand for Essential Consultants LLC, a Delaware company formed by Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer and used to pay $130,000 to Stephanie Clifford in exchange for her silence, according to Feb. 22 arbitration documents filed in Orange County, Calif.
.. Mr. Cohen, who was employed by the Trump Organization when he brokered the deal with Ms. Clifford shortly before the 2016 presidential election, has maintained he was acting on his own and has called it a “private transaction.”
.. Proving any violation would require evidence of coordination between Messrs. Cohen and Trump or his campaign, campaign-finance experts say.
.. Ms. Martin emailed a statement from the company that said she facilitated the filing “in her individual capacity” until a New York-based lawyer gained approval to practice in California. “The company has had no involvement in the matter,” the statement said
.. The arbitration filings, revealed by Michael Avenatti, Ms. Clifford’s attorney, show a direct connection between Mr. Trump’s company and the nondisclosure agreement with Ms. Clifford.
.. Ms. Martin signed a declaration listing her office address as One Trump National Drive, which is at the Trump Organization’s Trump National Golf Club in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.
.. She was a lead attorney for the Trump Organization in lawsuits alleging Mr. Trump’s real-estate seminars, Trump University, had defrauded customers.
.. Ms. Martin vouched for his character in media interviews during the 2016 campaign, after several women accused him of sexual harassment and assault
.. “Thousands of women have worked for him, including myself, and he’s treated us with nothing but respect and appropriately. And he’s always been someone who none of us would ever imagine he would do something like this,”
.. Mr. Cohen said he hadn’t been reimbursed by the Trump Organization or by Mr. Trump’s campaign, but declined to say if he had been reimbursed by Mr. Trump or anyone else.
.. He was listed as “David Dennison,” also a pseudonym,
As any longtime legal hand in the capital remembers well, it was a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by an Arkansas state employee, Paula Jones, against Bill Clinton that led to his impeachment for lying about his affair with Monica S. Lewinsky.
.. The case of the adult film actress, Stephanie Clifford, who uses the stage-name Stormy Daniels, may not get past even the first considerable obstacles. But if her court case proceeds, Mr. Trump and his longtime personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, may have to testify in depositions
.. Ms. Clifford’s agreement with Mr. Cohen stipulated that they would resolve disputes in the confidential arbitration proceedings. Assuming she does not blink — and her lawyer has said she won’t — it will fall to a judge in Los Angeles, where the suit was filed, to decide whether to compel Ms. Clifford to return to arbitration or allow the case to go forward in court
.. “A lawsuit opens the door, and judges almost always allow for a plaintiff to have a fishing expedition,” said Robert S. Bennett, the Washington lawyer who represented Mr. Clinton in the Paula Jones case. The questions could include, “Have you paid other people money?” he said.
.. perhaps intending to broaden it later to include claims that Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen coerced her into silence. “If that happened,” he said, “they certainly could seek to depose Trump.”
And in that case, he said, “I can certainly imagine how it might get broader.
And if it did, the wide array of Trump’s sexual interactions could be addressed
.. Ms. Clifford’s signature on the contract, and acceptance of the money, could count as a clear sign of agreement.
.. But other legal experts were struck by the sweeping nature of the nondisclosure agreement Ms. Clifford signed, and expressed skepticism that it would hold up in court. Beyond the circumstances of the alleged sexual relationship, the agreement barred her from doing anything, even indirectly, to “publicly disparage” Mr. Trump... Ms. Clifford has claimed that she met Mr. Trump at a celebrity golf tournament in 2006 and began a relationship that included sex and promises from Mr. Trump to get her on his NBC show “The Apprentice” and to give her a condominium... Mr. Avenatti argues that because Mr. Trump did not sign it himself, the agreement is invalid — a point Mr. Super, the Georgetown professor, basically agreed with and Mr. Noble said might have merit... The extent to which Mr. Cohen was acting on his own in striking the agreement with Ms. Clifford and paying her is crucial.. Important factors in the case would include just how closely Mr. Cohen coordinated the payment to Ms. Clifford with Mr. Trump and whether it was intended to help the campaign avoid negative publicity... But in her suit, Ms. Clifford tries to implicate Mr. Trump in the transaction, saying the offer of money was intended to buy her silence to help “ensure he won the presidential election.”.. It could have simply been a personal matter, he said, of Mr. Trump wishing to keep a secret from his wife.
.. Under federal law, banks are required to flag transactions that have no business or apparent lawful purpose or that deviate inexplicably from a customer’s normal bank activity.
.. The one-year lag between the payment by Mr. Cohen and the bank inquiry is unusual. It suggests that City National received new information that prompted it to take a fresh look at the transaction
.. Mr. Cohen’s role in a proposal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow in late 2015 and early 2016, the Journal has reported. In a September 2017 statement to the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mr. Cohen said the proposal was “solely a real estate deal and nothing more” and noted it was terminated “months before the first primary.”
they are serving in the least ethical administration in our history? The “our” is important, because there have been more crooked regimes — but only in banana republics. The corruption and malfeasance of the Trump administration is unprecedented in U.S. history. The only points of comparison are the Gilded Age scandals of the Grant administration, Teapot Dome under the Harding administration, and Watergate and the bribe-taking of Vice President Spiro Agnew during the Nixon administration.
.. tweet from President Trump: “Why is A.G. Jeff Sessions asking the Inspector General to investigate potentially massive FISA abuse. . . . Why not use Justice Department lawyers? DISGRACEFUL!” Translation: Trump is exercised that the Justice Department is following its normal procedures.
Sessions fired back: “As long as I am the Attorney General, I will continue to discharge my duties with integrity and honor.” Translation: The president is asking him to act without“integrity and honor.”
.. This is part of a long pattern of the president pressuring the “beleaguered” Sessions — a.k.a. “Mr. Magoo” — to misuse his authority to shut down the special counsel investigation of Trump and to launch investigations of Trump’s political foes. Because Sessions won’t do that, Trump has tried to force him from office. The president does not recognize that he is doing anything improper. He thinks the attorney general should be his private lawyer.
.. The poor man has no idea of what the “rule of law” even means
.. he said: “Take the guns first, go through due process second.” This from a supposed supporter of the Second Amendment.
This is a president, after all, whose
- communications director quit on Wednesday after admitting to lying (but insists her resignation was unrelated); whose
- senior staff included an alleged wife-beater; whose
- former national security adviser and deputy campaign manager have pleaded guilty to felonies; whose
- onetime campaign chairman faces 27 criminal charges, including conspiracy against the United States; whose
- attorney paid off a porn star; and whose
- son mixed family and government business on a trip to India.