The Trump Organization lawyer who signed court filings to silence Stormy Daniels was also the lead counsel defending class-action lawsuits against President Trump’s shady, now-defunct real estate school that allegedly scammed thousands of students.
As part of that case, Jill A. Martin even fought in the Court of Appeals to sue one former Trump University student for defamation.
And before the election, Martin tried to stop The Washington Post and other media from obtaining copies of the Trump University’s “Playbooks,” arguing in court papers that unsealing the documents would expose confidential information to competitors.
“Simply put, Mr. Trump’s Presidential campaign does not justify giving the Post carte blanche to expose TU’s trade secrets,” Martin wrote in May 2016. She didn’t prevail, and the employee pamphlets were quickly publicized. (Those “Playbooks” helped Trump’s instructors con single parents and average Joes into paying up to $35,000—sometimes on their credit cards—for allegedly bogus real estate seminars.)
Martin has made several TV appearances defending her boss, too.
As Trump’s treatment of women became a campaign controversy, Martin spoke on CNN and Larry King’s Russian-backed TV program.
In one October 2016 CNN spot, Martin said Trump’s “grab ’em by the pussy” comments, unearthed through an Access Hollywood video, were “not really representative of who he is.”
She also brushed off claims by women coming forward to accuse the Republican nominee of sexual harassment and assault, saying, “in my experience in the past six years, that experience, nothing like this has come forward about Mr. Trump.”
“Look, I’m not going to attack or criticize the women,” Martin told anchor Erin Burnett. “But what I do know is, I believe Donald when he says that and I believe them because I know him and I know his character. And 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.
“And he’s always been someone who none of us would ever imagine he would do something like this,” she added. “It is just completely inconsistent with his character and our own personal experiences. So, because of that, I believe him when he says he didn’t do anything inappropriate with women.”
Now Martin, a 38-year-old Los Angeles attorney, apparently stepped in to obtain a gag order to stop porn star Stormy Daniels from spilling the details of her alleged 2006 romp and year-long platonic relationship with the future president.
As The Wall Street Journal revealed last week, Martin is listed on an arbitration document as counsel for Essential Consultants LLC—the Delaware LLC that Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, used to pay Daniels $130,000 in hush money.
Daniels, born Stephanie Clifford, received the payout after signing a nondisclosure agreement days before the election. Last month, Cohen obtained a temporary restraining order through an arbitrator to block Daniels from speaking about her alleged affair with Trump, which took place months after his son Barron was born.
It’s unclear why Martin, a Trump Organization lawyer since 2010, is named as an attorney for the shadowy company used to pay off Daniels, particularly when Trump’s personal lawyer has insisted that “neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford.”
Martin emailed the Journal a statement claiming that she filed the arbitration papers “in her individual capacity” until a New York lawyer was approved to practice in California.
“The company has had no involvement in the matter,” the statement added.
She echoed this sentiment for CNN, stating she was working on behalf of Cohen’s attorney, Lawrence Rosen, not the Trump Organization. (Rosen did not return messages left by The Daily Beast.)
Martin works for the Trump Organization as vice president and assistant general counsel for litigation and employment. According to one Legal Week report, Trump directly hired Martin in Los Angeles in 2010.
She’s kept a lower profile than many of the more colorful dramatis personae in Trump’s orbit and is based in Los Angeles, far away from the White House and the nerve center of the Trump’s corporate headquarters in Manhattan.
In court filings, Martin’s mailing address is listed as the Trump National Golf Club in Rancho Palos Verdes, California.
One attorney, who’s faced off with Martin in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals over Trump University, described Martin as “professional.”
“In my dealings with her, I found her quite professional,” Eric Alan Isaacson, a San Diego litigator, told The Daily Beast. “She was not obnoxious or imposing in the way other Trump lawyers can be.”
Isaacson added, “I’ve seen quotations in the newspaper of Trump’s other lawyers, [like] Michael Cohen, and saying horrible things about how they’re going to destroy you and stuff. I don’t recall Jill doing anything like that.”
In 2011, Isaacson was representing Tarla Makaeff, who filed a class-action suit against Trump University and was countersued for defamation by Trump for $1 million. A U.S. District Court denied Makaeff’s motion to strike the counterclaim, so she appealed.
To Isaacson, Martin appeared to be answering to whatever Trump wanted, rather than calling the shots for him.
Martin did not respond to requests for comment from The Daily Beast asking to clarify her role in Essential Consultants or why a Trump Organization attorney was representing a company which Cohen insists he set up independently of Trump.
Cohen declined to comment. When a Daily Beast reporter said she had questions about Martin’s involvement, Cohen replied, “Then you should call Jill Martin, OK.”
Still, in a handful of interviews, Martin has given hints about her previous role in handling Trump’s litigation and how he liked to deal with delicate legal issues.
“He does work closely with his lawyers and he does work closely with his outside counsel,” Martin told Law.com in a June 2016 interview. Trump would be particularly hands-on, she said, when being sued personally. “He really does have a strong strategic mind and he oftentimes has suggestions for the lawyers that perhaps the lawyers wouldn’t think of that have proved to be really good strategy decisions.”
Martin has rarely spoken at length in public outside the confines of legal proceedings or short statements to the press. She said she didn’t work for the Trump 2016 campaign—or, according to Federal Election Commission records, donate to it—but in the heat of election news cycles led by bruising stories about the GOP candidate’s sexism, Martin surfaced as the female-friendly face of the Trump Organization.
When The New York Times magazine published a lengthy profile of Trump in May 2016 featuring interviews with dozens of women alleging the candidate had subjected them to unwanted sexual advances and harassment based on their appearance, Martin took to TV to push back against the Times’ characterization.
She told Larry King that Trump’s reputation as a womanizer was just an unwarranted hangover from his involvement in the modeling and pageant industries. “When he’s judging women in a pageant, it’s much different than what it’s like working for him in a strictly commercial business capacity,” Martin said.
On CNN, Martin praised her boss for giving her a chance to succeed both in her professional and family lives.
“That’s a very challenging thing as a female attorney,” Martin said. “And he’s let me do that without skipping a beat. I’ve seen him do it with many other women.”
She coupled her praise with a dark message for the Times. As Michael Cohen demanded an apology and retraction from the Times, Martin issued a veiled threat, telling CNN that a lawsuit was “a distinct possibility.”
“I haven’t talked to him about it personally,” Martin added. “But, you know, he’s attacked like that and things are said false, he definitely fires back.”