BLOG

The public relations battle being waged against President Trump by Stephanie Clifford - aka Stormy Daniels - a retired porn star who claims to have had an affair with Trump back in 2006 continued to rage Wednesday night when CNN, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal reported on what they characterized as "the first known link between Trump and the effort to silence" Daniels.

Specifically, documents from a February arbitration hearing turned over to the media show that a senior Trump Organization lawyer named Jill Martin filed some of the paperwork related to the hearing.

The documents, filed as part of confidential arbitration proceedings on Feb. 22, were made public Wednesday evening by CNN and the Wall Street Journal. The Washington Post confirmed their authenticity with Michael Avenatti, a lawyer for Daniels.

In a statement, the Trump Organization said it was not representing anyone in the Daniels dispute and “had no involvement in the matter.” One of its attorneys, Jill A. Martin, filed a document in her personal capacity while awaiting permission for another lawyer, not connected to the company, to practice in California, the statement said.

Martin has worked at the Trump organization since 2010, per WSJ.

Ms. Martin, a lawyer for the Trump Organization since 2010, has defended Mr. Trump both in court and in the media. She was a lead attorney for the Trump Organization in lawsuits alleging Mr. Trump’s real-estate seminars, Trump University, had defrauded customers.

The Trump Organization has so far claimed that it had no involvement in the matter...but Martin's petition during the arbitration hearing is a direct link between Trump's business and the Daniels affair.

In a statement, the Trump Organization said it was not representing anyone in the Daniels dispute and “had no involvement in the matter.” One of its attorneys, Jill A. Martin, filed a document in her personal capacity while awaiting permission for another lawyer, not connected to the company, to practice in California, the statement said.

In what appears to be a Cohen-like attempt at deflection, Martin emailed WSJ a statement showing that 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.

Filings from the arbitration battle - which Daniels lost - provided to WSJ by Daniels' lawyer, Michael Avenatti, confirmed a connection between Essential Consultants and Trump. On Feb. 27, an arbitrator issued a temporary restraining order against Daniels that enforced the terms of the NDA. In response, Avenatti filed the suit in a Los Angeles court challenging the legitimacy of the arbitration agreement.

The crux of Avenatti's defense, it seems, is that the agreement should be ruled invalid because Trump - who used the pseudonym David Dennison - neglected to sign the agreement.

To be sure, as WSJ points out, it isn't known whether Trump helped organize the payoff. Cohen has said under oath that he made the $130,000 payoff to Daniels on his own initiative. His statement has been heavily scrutinized by a Washington watchdog, which has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission arguing that the payoff violated FEC rules because it was, in fact, a campaign related expense.

Daniels

(Courtesy of WaPo)

Daniels received the money from Cohen in October 2016 after signing a non-disclosure agreement. According to its terms, Daniels is barred from speaking publicly about her liaison with the president. Violating the agreement could result in a fine of up to $1 million per violation.

And Martin's services may be used more in the future, as Daniels' lawsuit, filed in a Los Angeles court, proceeds. As we reported earlier, a hearing has been scheduled for June 12.

...And we're certain we'll be hearing more from Daniels and her lawyer between now and then.