Report: Michael Cohen obtained secret restraining order against Stormy Daniels eight days ago

Not a “stop stalking me” restraining order, a “keep Trump’s name out yo’ mouth” restraining order, in case that’s not clear.

Daniels’s own complaint mentioned the arbitration proceeding last month that produced the restraining order, in fact. From page 5:

A surreptitious hearing with no due process for Stormy? That *does* sound bogus. Except that … the hush-money agreement she and Cohen allegedly signed in 2016 specifically allows for that:

Cohen’s entitled to silence her via an ex parte arbitration proceeding under the terms she herself agreed to — if the original contract between her and Cohen is binding and enforceable. That’s the point of Daniels’s lawsuit. She claims that because Trump himself never signed, the contract was never actually entered into.

A question, then, for legal eagles: Would Cohen, who did sign the agreement, be able to enforce it against Daniels even if Trump couldn’t? Daniels insists that no meeting of the minds occurred between her and Trump, which may or may not be true per the absence of his signature, but there seems to be no question that there was a meeting of the minds between her and Cohen. They each signed, he transferred consideration in the amount of $130,000, now he’s demanding enforcement via procedures specified by its own terms. As I noted in the earlier post, the hush-money agreement even says in its introduction that it’s a contract between Daniels (“Peggy Peterson”) on the one hand and EC, LLC (the entity created by Cohen) and/or “David Dennison” (a.k.a. Trump). How does she win this suit?

NBC has the scoop about the restraining order:

On [Feb. 27] , 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…

“I have had conversations with the president about this and as I outlined earlier, this case had already been won in arbitration,” [Sarah Huckabee] 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.”

You’re left wondering why Cohen would take the extraordinary step of trying to enforce the agreement in arbitration knowing that the more back and forth there is in this matter, the more intense the media’s interest will get. If he decided to let the whole thing go and let Daniels chatter about Trump, what’s the worst that would happen? She’d gossip with Jimmy Kimmel and the tabloids about his dong, late-night comics would have a few days of material, and then everyone would move on leaving Trump without a dent. He’s a twice-divorced billionaire who said what he said to Billy Bush; literally no one’s surprised that he remained a skirt-chaser even after marrying Melania. It was priced into his political stock from the beginning.

So why is Cohen so eager to shut Daniels up? Does she know something about him that’s so embarrassing that it really might hurt him? Or are there other women whom we don’t know about (yet) watching Stormygate play out to see how much of a hard-ass Cohen might be in enforcing hush-money agreements? If he lets Daniels off the hook, other former mistresses — like Karen McDougal? — might start speaking up publicly. Depending on the number, maybe this does become a political problem for Trump among evangelicals. You can grant him a mulligan or two, but maybe not six.

Nah, I’m kidding. They’ll grant him as many indulgences as he needs. They traded their morals for power. That’s their own “hush agreement” with Trump.

Your exit quotation comes courtesy of a man who knows just how much damage an infidelity scandal can do to a political career. Sanford’s point touches on another way in which Trump is potentially vulnerable, I think: The more his personal life comes back to haunt him, the more people will ask the “What if Obama did it?” question and the more awkward this will become. Especially for Republicans in the House.