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Trump lawyer Michael Cohen tries to silence adult-film star Stormy Daniels

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President 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 will face 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.

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 order obtained by NBC News.

Read the temporary restraining order against Stormy Daniels

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.

But Rosen, who has represented Trump and his companies in the past, said in a statement to other media outlets that the agreement with Clifford contained an arbitration clause with permission to “seek an injunction in the event of a breach or threatened breach of the agreement.”

“The designated judge from the arbitration tribunal found that Ms. Clifford had violated the agreement and enjoined her from, among other things, filing this lawsuit,” Rosen said in the statement.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee 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, Avenatti quipped, “Yeah, and he won the popular vote, too.”

Analysis: Stormy Daniels isn’t suing Donald Trump for cash

“President Trump hasn’t won anything relating to Ms. Clifford,” he added.

“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 to 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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Joe Biden-Vladimir Putin summit: Leaders agree to return ambassadors to posts in bid to lower tensions | World News

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Russia’s Vladimir Putin says he and US President Joe Biden have agreed to return their ambassadors to their respective posts in an attempt to lower tensions.

It comes after around four hours of talks between the leaders at a summit in Switzerland.

The two men have had face-to-face discussions at a villa on the shores of Lake Geneva.

The first round of talks involved both leaders, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and a pair of translators.

A second session involved other senior officials on both sides.

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Putin and Biden meet in Geneva

President Biden gave a thumbs up as he left the villa and then entered his limousine, TV footage showed.

Diplomats deemed it to be too risky for them to appear together because of the potential of an embarrassing public spat in response to media questions.

Opening the talks earlier, Mr Putin said he hoped for a “productive” meeting, while Mr Biden called it a discussion between “two great powers” and insisted “it is always better to meet face to face”.

As they appeared together for the first time since 2011, both men appeared to avoid looking directly at the other during a brief and chaotic photocall before jostling reporters and photographers.

Mr Biden instigated the summit, and for months the two leaders have criticised each other.

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Biden: Putin is a worthy adversary

Mr Biden has repeatedly called out Mr Putin for malicious cyberattacks by Russian-based hackers on US interests, a disregard for democracy with the jailing of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny and alleged interference in American elections.

Mr Putin, in turn, has pointed to the US Capitol riot on 6 January to argue America has no business lecturing on democratic norms.

And he insisted the Russian government has not been involved in any election interference or cyberattacks despite US intelligence showing otherwise.

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Russia’s View: Exclusive interview with Putin

The jailing of Mr Navalny, whose novichok poisoning was blamed on the Kremlin, was a subject on which Mr Biden was unlikely to get much traction with Mr Putin who considers the case an internal Russian affair.

But there were areas where cooperation was expected. They include arms control, climate change, containing Iran’s nuclear ambitions, humanitarian assistance to Syrians and working together on the COVID-19 pandemic.

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US-Russia summit: Putin hopes for ‘productive’ meeting and Biden says it is ‘better to meet face to face’ as event gets under way | World News

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US President Joe Biden and Russia’s Vladimir Putin have embarked on hours of face-to-face talks at a lakeside mansion in Switzerland.

Opening the talks, Mr Putin said he hoped for a “productive” meeting, as Mr Biden insisted “it is always better to meet face to face”.

Their encounter at a villa on the shores of Lake Geneva is full of the potential for high drama but low on expectations for diplomatic breakthroughs.

Biden and Putin
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Biden and Putin

As they appeared together for the first time since 2011, both men appeared to avoid looking directly at the other during a brief and chaotic photocall before jostling reporters and photographers.

When a reporter asked if Mr Putin could be trusted, Mr Biden appeared to nod, but the White House quickly sent out a tweet insisting the president was “very clearly not responding to any one question, but nodding in acknowledgment to the press generally”.

Mr Putin ignored shouted questions from reporters.

The two leaders shook hands with Mr Biden extending his hand first.

Shortly before, Mr Biden had smiled at the Russian leader when they posed with Swiss President Guy Parmelin, who welcomed them to Switzerland for the summit.

The meeting, which is expected to last four or five hours in total, comes at the end of Mr Biden’s first foreign trip as US president which has taken him to Cornwall for the G7 meeting and Brussels for separate NATO and EU summits.

About two hours in, the Kremlin announced that the first round of talks had concluded, with a short break, followed by their resumption with a larger group of people in attendance – the first of two such rounds.

The first meeting involved the two leaders, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and a pair of translators.

At all of these meetings, messages have been moulded and red lines set by western leaders which sources say Mr Biden will spell out to Mr Putin.

Ukraine, Belarus, Iran, Syria and issues like arms proliferation are all expected to be discussed as well as behaviour by Russia which western nations consider to be contrary to the so-called international rules based system.

The fate of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, poisoned then imprisoned in Russia, will be raised by the American president. It is a subject on which he is unlikely to get much traction with his Russian counterpart who considers the case an internal Russian affair.

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Russia’s View: Exclusive interview with Putin

But domestically for Mr Biden, who is facing criticism for agreeing to a meeting with Mr Putin so early in his presidency, it’s important to be seen to be pressuring the Russians.

The US president, who famously called Mr Putin “a killer” has conceded already that there is “no guarantee” that the meeting will effect any change of behaviour by the Russian president.

As well as the Navalny case, the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury in 2018 is likely to feature in the talks.

Defence rivalry will be a key issue with an attempt at a new dialogue on arms control. Issues like the territorial control in the Arctic, space, cyber and autonomous weapons systems could all be up for discussion.

Andrey Kortunov is director general of the Russian International Affairs Council and considered to be a Kremlin insider.

He told Sky News: “They will not resolve these issues in Geneva, they might only authorise their respective bureaucrats and military and diplomats to get into a serious conversation on all of these issues. That would be already a major accomplishment.”

Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with then vice president Joe Biden in Moscow in 2011
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Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with then vice president Joe Biden in Moscow in 2011

He continued: “I think that Biden and Putin will probably articulate their positions on issues like Ukraine or Belarus too. But it’s hard to believe that they can achieve a breakthrough on such sensitive issues.”

Expectations by diplomats on both sides are being kept intentionally low. From that base it’s possible to build up even small wins as diplomatic breakthroughs.

There is a chance that the two leaders could agree to repair the basic mechanics of their bilateral relationship by reinstalling ambassadors in their respective capitals. But beyond that sort of gesture, bigger announcements are not likely.

On Monday, Mr Biden said he will make clear to Putin “what the red lines are” and “if he chooses not to cooperate and acts in a way that he has in the past relative to cybersecurity and some other activities, then we will respond in kind.”

Asked for his assessment of the former KGB officer, Mr Biden said: “He’s bright, he’s tough, and I have found that he is a – as they say when I used to play ball – a worthy adversary.”

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Biden: Putin is a worthy adversary

The meeting, which was initiated by President Biden, has been arranged over just a few weeks and will involve one-plus-one talks with Mr Putin and his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Mr Biden and his Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.

A second session will then include other senior officials on both sides.

The two leaders will not hold a joint news conference. Diplomats deem it to be too risky for them to appear together because of the potential of an embarrassing public spat in response to media questions.

“Definitely the summit was prepared in a haste. It’s the very beginning (of the relationship). And it’s going to be a modest beginning especially for Biden. He cannot look as if he yielded too much to the Russian counterpart,” Mr Kortunov told Sky News.

There are areas where cooperation is expected. They include arms control, climate change, containing Iran’s nuclear ambitions, humanitarian assistance to Syrians and working together on the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Nora Quoirin: Malaysia court overturns coroner’s verdict that teen’s death was misadventure | UK News

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A High Court in Malaysia has overturned a coroner’s verdict that the death of French-Irish teenager, Nora Quoirin, was likely misadventure with no one else involved.

The 15-year-old, who lived in Balham, in southwest London, was staying with her family at a hotel around an hour from the capital, Kuala Lumpur, when she disappeared in August 2019.

After a ten-day search, her body was discovered around 2.5 kilometres from where she was last seen at the Dusun eco-resort in southern Negeri Sembilan.

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A coroner in Malaysia ruled in January that the death of British teenager Nora Quoirin was most likely a misadventure.

Meabh Quoirin said her daughter was born with holoprosencephaly, a disorder that affects brain development leaving Nora with learning and physical disabilities.

During a short virtual hearing, Judge Azizul Azmi Adnan laid out the reasons for revising the judgement and returning an open verdict.

In particular, he highlighted Nora’s struggles with balance and coordination, the steep terrain around the resort, which was challenging for people without her physical disabilities, and her shy personality which made her “unadventurous” and “uncomfortable with the unfamiliar”.

“Having reviewed the material, that was before the court, I am of the view that the verdict of misadventure ought to be vacated in the interests of justice and substituted with an open verdict, as there was no credible evidence to support any other verdict,” he explained to Nora’s listening parents.

“I am willing to accept that on the evidence before the court the possibility for third party involvement was lower than the possibility that Nora Anne had inadvertently got herself into a situation from which she could not extricate herself.

“That does not mean, however, that I should enter a verdict of misadventure,” he added.

The ruling is a legal victory for the family who believe Nora may have been abducted and challenged the coroner’s decision.

Police have always suggested there was no evidence of foul play, claiming she likely climbed out of a window and wandered off into the jungle alone.

Her family has dismissed this saying that Nora would not have been physically able to disappear into thick forest unaided and evade detection during the intensive search involving drones and sniffer dogs.

Nora’s parents said they were “utterly disappointed” by a coroner’s verdict in January.

They have suggested her body may have been placed in the area where it was finally found.

Legal representatives for the family previously said an open verdict would be “appropriate”.

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