New documents obtained by CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360” on Wednesday suggest a deeper link than previously known between the Trump Organization and the company that Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, established in 2016 to pay off porn star Stormy Daniels in exchange for silence about her alleged affair with Trump.
The documents also offer the first evidence of an individual employed by the Trump Organization – other than Cohen – being involved in an ongoing legal battle regarding Daniels’ alleged affair with Trump.
A “demand for arbitration” document dated February 22, 2018, names Jill Martin, a top lawyer at the Trump Organization based in California, as the attorney representing “EC, LLC.” “EC, LLC” is Essential Consultants, according to Daniels’ lawsuit, a company that Cohen established in the weeks leading up to the 2016 presidential election to facilitate a payment of $130,000 to Daniels.
Martin’s title at the Trump Organization is vice president and assistant general counsel, according to her LinkedIn page. The address listed for Martin on both documents is One Trump National Drive in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, which is the location of Trump National Golf Club, Los Angeles.
In addition to showing a second attorney connected with the Trump Organization having direct involvement in legal matters related to Daniels, the new documents raise questions about Cohen’s previous insistence that “neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford,” though it is not known whether Martin had any involvement in the case prior to the arbitration filing.
When asked by CNN about the documents, Martin replied with a statement from the Trump Organization that said she was working in a private capacity, on behalf of Cohen’s attorney Lawrence Rosen. “The Trump Organization is not representing anyone and, with the exception of one of its California based attorneys in her individual capacity facilitating the initial filing… the company has had no involvement in the matter.”
The documents were part of Cohen’s request for a restraining order against Daniels, to keep her from speaking about her alleged affair with Trump. A private arbitration judge approved the request for an “ex-parte application for emergency relief,” which meant that neither Daniels nor her attorney had to be notified about the proceedings. Last week, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters that the arbitration was won “in the President’s favor,” an admission that the nondisclosure agreement exists, and that it directly involves the President. However, the President did not “win” arbitration, because the restraining order is an interim order.
While Martin has specifically denied working for the Trump campaign, she has nevertheless spoken on Trump’s behalf on numerous occasions, throughout the 2016 campaign.
She spoke with CNN’s Erin Burnett in October 2016 just two weeks before Election Day, for example, defending then-candidate Trump against accusations of sexual assault from multiple women.
“I’ve seen him around women. Thousands of women that have worked for him including myself and he’s treated us with nothing but respect and appropriately,” Martin said.
Martin spoke with multiple media outlets about Trump and publicly praised and defended him throughout the campaign season.
In a September 2016 Los Angeles Times story about court documents that argued Trump wanted to fire women at his California golf course who weren’t pretty, Martin told the paper: “We do not engage in discrimination of any kind.”
She also appeared on CNN in June 2016 to talk discuss Trump University litigation, in which she also served as an attorney for Trump.
Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, maintains that she was paid $130,000 to keep silent about her alleged affair with Trump, which began in 2006. Daniels filed a lawsuit against Trump last week, claiming that he never signed a hush agreement regarding her alleged sexual encounter with him and therefore arguing that the agreement is void.
According to the legal complaint filed in California state court, Cohen signed the document, but there is no signature from Trump himself.
“Despite Mr. Trump’s failure to sign the Hush Agreement, Mr. Cohen proceeded to cause $130,000.00 to be wired to the trust account of Ms. Clifford’s attorney,” the lawsuit states. “He did so even though there was no legal agreement and thus no written nondisclosure agreement whereby Ms. Clifford was restricted from disclosing the truth about Mr. Trump.”
Larry Noble, general counsel of the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center and a CNN contributor, said the arbitration document offers evidence of a possible connection between the Trump Organization and the payment to Daniels, which could violate campaign finance law.
“This is further evidence that the Trump Organization is involved. If they are going to argue that this payment was separate and apart from the Trump Organization, then why is the organization representing this company now?”