Adult film star Stormy Daniels may soon be forced to talk on the record about her alleged affair with Donald Trump, thanks to a lawsuit filed in January by Trump's lawyer and self-described "fix it guy" Michael Cohen — the same Michael Cohen who sent Daniels a $130,000 payoff apparently intended to buy her silence about the affair just days before the 2016 presidential election.
The Cohen lawsuit would draw Daniels into the ongoing investigation of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in the election, in which Russia carried out a cyber hacking and propaganda campaign intended to help Trump win the election.
In January of 2017, the site BuzzFeed News published the "Steele Dossier," a collection of memos by Russia expert and former British spy Christopher Steele, detailing numerous examples of close collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Among its allegations, the dossier stated that Cohen himself arranged payments to Russian hackers who stole emails from the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign, later relating them online to damage Clinton. Cohen strongly denied the allegations and, in January of 2018, sued BuzzFeed, charging that the site libeled him by publishing the dossier.
Daniels — whose real name is Stephanie Clifford — filed a lawsuit against Trump and Cohen last week, seeking to void the non-disclosure deal she signed in exchange for the $130,000 payment. But now, according to a report by the news site Politico, the NDA may not apply at all if BuzzFeed lawyers require her to give a deposition in the Cohen libel case.
On Tuesday, BuzzFeed lawyer Katherine Bolger sent a letter to Daniels' attorney Michael Avenatti, requesting that Daniels save any and all documentation of her affair with Trump and the subsequent hush money payoff. The letter says that Cohen's actions in the Daniels case are so similar to what the Steele dossier says that he did in the Russia hacking conspiracy that they could be evidence to support BuzzFeed's case.
Letters such as the one sent by Bolger "are often a prelude to a subpoena," Politico reported. "If Daniels' testimony is formally demanded in a deposition, the nondisclosure agreement would likely be no obstacle, legal experts said."
In other words, the NDA that she signed with Trump would essentially be overruled by BuzzFeed's need to defend itself against Cohen's libel claims. Daniels would be forced to tell her story — under oath — regardless of any agreement she signed with Cohen or Trump.
Daniels' lawsuit claims that the NDA is invalid anyway, because Trump himself never signed it. A hearing has been set in the case for July 12 in Los Angeles Superior Court in California. Cohen has claimed that Trump knew nothing about the payment to Daniels or the NDA — but that claim received a setback on Wednesday when CNN obtained a document showing that another Trump Organization lawyer, Jill Martin, represented the limited liability corporation used to make the $130,000 payment to Daniels.
Martin is listed as vice president and general counsel to the Trump Organization. The document shows that she represented Essential Consultants, also known as EC LLC, in a February 22 arbitration proceeding aimed at obtaining a restraining order that would prevent Daniels from talking about the Trump affair or hush money deal.
Martin told CNN that when she signed the document, she was not acting as a representative of the Trump Organization. But she has often acted as a public spokesperson for Trump himself, as in the below interview with Larry King in 2016.
In fact, in 2016, when Trump was accused of sexual assault and harassment by nearly 20 women, Martin publicly defended him. She also defended Trump against accusations that his Trump University real estate seminars had defrauded students of the "university."