Trump's lawyer tries to silence Stormy Daniels with secret gag order

Donald Trump's lawyer is trying to silence adult-film star Stormy Daniels, obtaining a secret restraining order in a private arbitration proceeding and warning that she faces penalties if she publicly discusses a relationship with the president, NBC News has learned.

The new pressure on Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, comes a day after she filed a lawsuit in a Los Angeles court alleging that a nondisclosure agreement she made to keep quiet about an "intimate" relationship with Trump is invalid because he never signed it.

Tuesday's lawsuit says that Trump attorney Michael Cohen — who brokered the agreement with Clifford during the presidential campaign — attempted to "intimidate" Clifford and "shut her up" by initiating what it calls a "bogus arbitration proceeding" against her in Los Angeles on Feb. 27, 2018.

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Porn star Stephanie Clifford, aka Stormy Daniels, who allegedly had a yearlong affair with Trump
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Porn star Stephanie Clifford, aka Stormy Daniels, who allegedly had a yearlong affair with Trump
Adult film actress Stormy Daniels attends a book signing for her memoir "Full Disclosure" at the Museum of Sex on Monday, Oct. 8, 2018. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, the porn film star who said she had an affair with Donald Trump before he became U.S. president, is shown in this booking photo released by Franklin County Sheriff's Office, Columbus, Ohio, U.S., July 12, 2018. Courtesy Franklin County Sheriff's Office/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Stormy Daniels, the porn star currently in legal battles with U.S. President Donald Trump, receives the key to the city of West Hollywood for her contribution to the #resist movement, during a ceremony in West Hollywood, California, U.S., May 23, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Adult-film actress Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, departs federal court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 16, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Adult-film actress Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, poses for pictures at the end of her striptease show in Gossip Gentleman club in Long Island, New York, U.S., February 23, 2018. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 21: Adult film actress/director Stormy Daniels attends the 2017 Adult Video News Awards at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on January 21, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 21: Actress Stormy Daniels arrives at the 2017 Adult Video News Awards held at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on January 21, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/FilmMagic)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 18: Adult film actress/director Stormy Daniels appears at the Wicked Pictures booth at the 2017 AVN Adult Entertainment Expo at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on January 18, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 18: Adult film actress/director Stormy Daniels appears at the Wicked Pictures booth at the 2017 AVN Adult Entertainment Expo at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on January 18, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 23: Adult film actor/musician Brendon Miller (L) and his wife, adult film actress/director Stormy Daniels, attend the 2016 Adult Video News Awards at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on January 23, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 23: Adult film actress/director Stormy Daniels attends the 2016 Adult Video News Awards at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on January 23, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 15: Adult film actress Stormy Daniels arrives for the 2016 XBIZ Awards held at JW Marriott Los Angeles at L.A. LIVE on January 15, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 22: Adult film actress/director Stormy Daniels poses at the Wicked Pictures booth at the 2015 AVN Adult Entertainment Expo at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on January 22, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 22: Adult film actresses/directors jessica drake (L) and Stormy Daniels pose at the Wicked Pictures booth at the 2015 AVN Adult Entertainment Expo at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on January 22, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - MAY 03: Stormy Daniels attends Exxxotica 2014 on May 3, 2014 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (Photo by Larry Marano/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 16: Adult film actress Stormy Daniels attends the 2014 AVN Adult Entertainment Expo at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on January 16, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/FilmMagic)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 16: Adult film actress Stormy Daniels attends the 2014 AVN Adult Entertainment Expo at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on January 16, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/FilmMagic)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 05: Adult film actress Stormy Daniels arrives at the Sapphire Pool & Day Club grand opening party on May 5, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/FilmMagic)
CENTURY CITY, CA - JANUARY 11: Adult film actress Stormy Daniels and adult film actor Brendon Miller arrive for the 2013 XBIZ Awards held at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza on January 11, 2013 in Century City, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/WireImage)
CENTURY CITY, CA - JANUARY 11: Adult film actress Stormy Daniels arrives for the 2013 XBIZ Awards held at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza on January 11, 2013 in Century City, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/WireImage)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 20: Adult film actress Stormy Daniels appears during an autograph signing for Wicked Pictures at the 2012 AVN Adult Entertainment Expo at The Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino January 20, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 21: Adult film actress Stormy Daniels (L), and her husband, adult film actor Brendon Miller, arrive at the 29th annual Adult Video News Awards Show at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino January 21, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 20: Adult film actress Stormy Daniels appears during an autograph signing for Wicked Pictures at the 2012 AVN Adult Entertainment Expo at The Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino January 20, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS - OCTOBER 03: Stormy Daniels (R) arrives at Jet Nightclub at The Mirage on October 3, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Denise Truscello/WireImage)
Musician Dave Navarro and actress Stormy Daniels arrive at the premiere 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall' at the Grauman's Chinese Theater on April 10, 2008 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
HOLLYWOOD - APRIL 10: Musician Dave Navarro and actress Stormy Daniels arrive at the premiere 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall' at the Grauman's Chinese Theater on April 10, 2008 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
Stormy Daniels arrives at the 50th Grammy Awards in Los Angeles on February 10, 2008. AFP PHOTO/Gabriel BOUYS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 10: Actress Stormy Daniels arrives to the 50th Annual GRAMMY Awards at the Staples Center on February 10, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage) *** Local Caption ***
LAS VEGAS - JANUARY 12: Actress Stormy Daniels arrives at a naughty night to remember at TAO Nightclub at The Venetian Hotel and Casino Resort on January 12, 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Farina/WireImage) *** Local Caption ***
LAS VEGAS - JANUARY 12: Adult film actress Stormy Daniels (L) and radio talk show host Bubba the Love Sponge arrive at the 25th annual Adult Video News Awards Show at the Mandalay Bay Events Center January 12, 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - AUGUST 13: Stormy Daniels attends 'Superbad' Premiere Los Angeles - Arrivals at Mann's Chinese Theatre on August 13, 2007 in Hollywood, CA. (Photo by ANDREAS BRANCH/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD - AUGUST 13: Actress Stormy Daniels attends the premiere of Superbad at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on August 13, 2007 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage) *** Local Caption ***
Stormy Daniels during 'Knocked Up' Los Angeles Premiere - Red Carpet at Mann's Village Theater in Westwood, California, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc for Variety Magazine)
Stormy Daniels during 'Knocked Up' Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals at Mann Village Theatre in Westwood, California, United States. (Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
Stormy Daniels and Gerard Butler (Photo by Denise Truscello/WireImage)
Stormy Daniels during GQ Magazine Celebrates Heineken Premium Light at Les Deux in Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by M. Tran/FilmMagic)
Ron Jeremy and Stormy Daniels during Ron Jeremy Birthday Bash Hosted by Stormy Daniels in Association with Penthouse and Esterman - March 10, 2007 at Element in Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by Enos Solomon/FilmMagic)
Ron Jeremy and Stormy Daniels (Photo by Enos Solomon/FilmMagic)
LAS VEGAS - JANUARY 13: Dieter Esch, head of Wilhelmina Models (L), and adult film actress Stormy Daniels arrive at the 24th annual Adult Video News Awards Show at the Mandalay Bay Events Center January 13, 2007 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS - JANUARY 13: Adult film actress Stormy Daniels arrives at the 24th annual Adult Video News Awards Show at the Mandalay Bay Events Center January 13, 2007 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Stormy Daniels (Photo by Denise Truscello/WireImage) *** Local Caption ***
HOLLYWOOD - NOVEMBER 2: Socialite Stormy Daniels attends the Grand Opening of An Original Penguin on November 2, 2006 Hollywood, California. (Photo by Thos Robinson/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD - NOVEMBER 2: Socialite Stormy Daniels attends the Grand Opening of An Original Penguin on November 2, 2006 Hollywood, California. (Photo by Thos Robinson/Getty Images)
Stormy Daniels during 'The Bliss' Los Angeles Screening - Arrivals at Cinespace in Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)
LAS VEGAS - AUGUST 28: Adult film actress Stormy Daniels presents a creation by Junker Designs during a fashion show debuting the company's new collection at the Rainbow Bar & Grill as part of the MAGIC convention August 28, 2006 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Stormy Daniels (Photo by Mark Sullivan/WireImage) *** Local Caption ***
Stormy Daniels (Photo by Denise Truscello/WireImage) *** Local Caption ***
LAS VEGAS - JUNE 03: Adult film actress Stormy Daniels arrives at the first annual Head to Hollywood Celebrity Charity Poker Tournament and Auction at The Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino June 3, 2006 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The charity, founded by actress Carmen Electra and Us Weekly editor Ken Baker, provides brain tumor survivors and their families a VIP celebrity experience in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Actresss Stormy Daniels arrives to the Sheila and Lynn Marbry's Elevate Hope Foundation 'Circle of Passion' pre-Oscar benefit event at the Pacific Design Center Sunday evening. (Photo by Axel Koester/Corbis via Getty Images)
Actresses Stormy Daniels (R) and Kristen Price arrive to the Sheila and Lynn Marbry's Elevate Hope Foundation 'Circle of Passion' pre-Oscar benefit event at the Pacific Design Center Sunday evening. (Photo by Axel Koester/Corbis via Getty Images)
Jose Canseco and Stormy Daniels during Guy's North in Studio City Grand Opening - Red Carpet and Inside at Guys North in Studio City, California, United States. (Photo by John Shearer/WireImage for BWR Public Relations)
Pornstar, Stormy Daniels AKA Stormy Waters during Missy Elliot Hosts Yahoo! Music's Exclusive Grammy After Party at Mood in Hollywood, CA, United States. (Photo by Derek Bauer/FilmMagic)
Stormy Daniels and Jose Canseco during Yahoo! Music and Missy Elliot Post-Grammy Event at Mood in Hollywood, CA, United States. (Photo by M. Phillips/WireImage for Strategic Group)
Stormy Daniels AKA Stormy Waters, Wicked Contract Performer (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - APRIL 10: Dave Navarro and Stormy Daniels attend The Universal Pictures Premiere of Forgetting Sarah Marshall at Graumans Chinese Theatre on April 10, 2008 in Hollywood, CA. (Photo by ANDREAS BRANCH/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD - JULY 27: Comedian Dane Cook with Stormy Daniels attend a signing for his new CD/DVD 'Retaliation' at Tower Records on July 27, 2005 in Hollywood California. (Photo by Matthew Simmons/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD - JULY 27: Stormy Daniels attends a signing for Comedian Dane Cook's new CD/DVD 'Retaliation' at Tower Records on July 27, 2005 in Hollywood California. (Photo by Matthew Simmons/Getty Images)
Angel Cassiday and Stormy Daniels AKA Stormy Waters (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
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Analysis: Stormy Daniels isn't suing Donald Trump for cash

On that day, Cohen obtained a temporary restraining order against Clifford from the private arbitrator, a retired judge, which bars her from disclosing "confidential information" related to the nondisclosure agreement signed in October 2016, according to a copy of the document obtained by NBC News.

On Feb. 28, Cohen emailed the restraining order to Clifford's former attorney, Keith Davidson. "The document itself is to remain confidential and not to be disclosed to anyone as per the terms of the judge's order," the email, obtained by NBC News, said.

Reached for comment late Wednesday afternoon, Clifford's current attorney, Michael Avenatti, said Cohen, through his own attorney Lawrence Rosen, has made further attempts to enforce the order and caution Clifford that she is subject to damages if she talks about Trump.

"Earlier today, Mr. Cohen through his attorney, Mr. Rosen, further threatened my client in an effort to prevent her from telling the truth about what really happened," Avenatti said. "We do not take kindly to these threats, nor we will be intimidated."

Cohen and Rosen did not immediately respond to requests for comment from NBC News.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a press briefing Wednesday that Trump denies "all of these allegations" — that he had an affair with Clifford more than a decade ago or that he knew Cohen had paid her $130,000.

"I have had conversations with the president about this and as I outlined earlier, this case had already been won in arbitration," Sanders said. It's unclear what Sanders was referring to; Trump is not listed as a party on the restraining order issued by the arbitration judge.

Asked about that comment, Clifford's lawyer, Michael Avenatti, quipped, "Yeah, and he won the popular vote, too."

"President Trump hasn't won anything relating to Ms. Clifford," he added.

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Donald Trump's longtime lawyer Michael Cohen
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Donald Trump's longtime lawyer Michael Cohen
U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen exits a hotel in New York City, U.S., April 11, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Michael Cohen, personal attorney for U.S. President Donald Trump, arrives to appear before Senate Intelligence Committee staff as the panel investigates alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen drives after leaving his hotel in New York City, U.S., April 11, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Attorney Michael Cohen arrives at Trump Tower for meetings with President-elect Donald Trump on December 16, 2016 in New York.

(BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)

Michael Cohen, personal attorney for U.S. President Donald Trump, talks to reporters as he departs after meeting with Senate Intelligence Committee staff as the panel investigates alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, President-elect Donald Trump's choice for National Security Advisor, Michael Cohen, executive vice president of the Trump Organization and special counsel to Donald Trump, and former Texas Governor Rick Perry talk with each other in the lobby at Trump Tower, December 12, 2016 in New York City. President-elect Donald Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and other high level positions for the new administration.

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 19: Michael Cohen, center, a personal attorney for President Trump, leaves Hart Building after his meeting with the Senate Intelligence Committee to discuss Russian interference in the 2016 election was postponed on September 19, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Attorney Michael Cohen arrives to Trump Tower for meetings with President-elect Donald Trump on December 16, 2016 in New York.

(BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's personal attorney arrives with his attorney, Stephen M. Ryan to speak with reporters after meeting with Senate Intelligence Committee staff on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

Retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, White House national security adviser-designate, from left, Michael Cohen, executive vice president of the Trump Organization and special counsel to Donald Trump, and Rick Perry, former governor of Texas, speak in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, U.S., on Monday, Dec. 12, 2016. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he had the 'highest confidence' in the intelligence community, in sharp contrast to President-elect Donald Trump's attack on the CIA after reports it found that the Russian government tried to help him win the presidency.

(Albin Lohr-Jones/Pool via Bloomberg)

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's personal attorney, looks on as his attorney (not pictured) delivers a statement to reporters after meeting with Senate Intelligence Committee staff on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

Attorney Michael Cohen arrives to Trump Tower for meetings with President-elect Donald Trump on December 16, 2016 in New York.

(BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)

UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 19: Michael Cohen, center, a personal attorney for President Trump, leaves Hart Building after his meeting with the Senate Intelligence Committee to discuss Russian interference in the 2016 election was postponed on September 19, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen exits a hotel in New York City, U.S., April 11, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen is pictured leaving a restaurant in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 10, 2018. REUTERS/Amir Levy
Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's personal attorney, arrives with his attorney, Stephen M. Ryan, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., October 25, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen is pictured arriving at his hotel in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 10, 2018. REUTERS/Amir Levy
Michael Cohen, personal attorney for U.S. President Donald Trump, departs after meeting with Senate Intelligence Committee staff as the panel investigates alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
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"First of all, it does not appear as if he was even a party to the arbitration Ms. Sanders is referring to. How can you win something you're not even a part of? Secondly, claiming that Mr. Trump 'won' at arbitration when there has been no hearing, no notice to Ms. Clifford, no opportunity given to her to respond, and no decision on the merits, is completely bogus."

Earlier on Wednesday, Avenatti told TODAY that Clifford's lawsuit, if successful, would allow his client to "tell her story."

"She believes it's important that the public learn the truth about what happened," he said. "I think it's time for her to tell her story and for the public to decide who is telling the truth."

The suit asks a California court to affirm that the agreement Clifford signed is invalid.

The "hush agreement," as it's called in the suit, refers Clifford as Peggy Peterson and another individual as David Dennison. In one of the documents, the true identity of Dennison is blacked out, but Avenatti said the individual is Trump.

Clifford signed both the agreement and a side letter agreement using her professional name on Oct. 28, 2016, just days before the 2016 presidential election. Cohen signed the document the same day. Both agreements were appended to the lawsuit as Exhibit 1 and Exhibit 2.

Each document includes a blank where "DD" is supposed to sign, but neither blank is signed.

Clifford and Trump had an intimate relationship that lasted from the summer of 2006 "well into the year 2007," and meetings in Lake Tahoe and at the Beverly Hills Hotel, the lawsuit alleges. In the past, Cohen has said the president denies there was ever a relationship.

The lawsuit says that Cohen — who says he used his personal funds to facilitate a payment to Clifford — has been trying to scare the actress into not talking.

"To be clear, the attempts to intimidate Ms. Clifford into silence and 'shut her up' in order to 'protect Mr. Trump' continue unabated," says the suit. "On or about February 27, 2018, Mr. Trump's attorney Mr. Cohen surreptitiously initiated a bogus arbitration proceeding against Ms. Clifford in Los Angeles."

The nondisclosure agreement said any further dispute would be resolved by binding arbitration "to the greatest extent permitted by law."If the agreement is void because Trump didn't sign it, as Clifford argues, the arbitration clause would also be unenforceable.

 

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