Could the fall of Michael Avenatti be at hand? For those who have been in the crosshairs of this manic, headline-addicted lawyer, it would be a welcome moment. Early yesterday afternoon, Avenatti, best-known for having represented Stormy Daniels in her civil lawsuits against President Donald Trump and Trump’s ex-personal attorney, Michael Cohen, was charged in Manhattan and Los Angeles federal courts with crimes that could land him up to 97 years in prison. In Manhattan, where he was arrested, Avenatti allegedly had tried to extort over $20 million from Nike Inc. in return for a promise not to savage the company’s reputation. In Los Angeles, he faces separate fraud charges of diverting funds from a client settlement to his personal use and of grossly overstating his income to obtain a bank loan. He is now free on $300,000 bond with travel restrictions.
Michael Avenatti, plaintiff’s attorney, media presence and sworn enemy of all things Donald Trump, for the past year has been inflicting himself on the public via CNN, MSNBC and other news outlets. It’s part of his campaign to remove Trump from office on behalf of his star client, porn star Stormy Daniels. Yet Avenatti’s main issue for now appears to be whether he can avoid oblivion despite his receipt of online crowdfunding donations. His longtime former law firm, Eagan Avenatti LLP, received a final eviction notice last month from an Orange County, Calif. court despite bagging numerous outsized awards and verdicts. And he’s facing a costly divorce settlement and a domestic battery charge. His many enemies might be thinking that all this couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.
Stormy Daniels, porn star/stripper extraordinaire, has been denied a starring role – at least for now. On Monday, a Los Angeles federal court tossed out Daniels’ defamation lawsuit against President Donald Trump filed in April by her lawyer, Michael Avenatti. The suit was based on a tweet by Trump calling her allegation of being threatened by a strange man on a Las Vegas parking lot back in 2011 “a total con job.” According to U.S. District Judge S. James Otero, the president’s message was “rhetorical hyperbole” of the sort one associates with standard political discourse. Avenatti doesn’t think so. He’s already filed an appeal. And thanks in part to the publicity he generated in opposition to Brett Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation, he now has widespread support among Democratic senators and the general public.
Some of the worst travesties of justice occur when a lawbreaker manages to convince the public that he or she is actually the victim. This, in fact, appears to be the real story behind accusations that Donald Trump violated federal election laws by ordering “hush money” to be paid to stripper/porn star Stormy Daniels during the final weeks of the 2016 presidential campaign to conceal the fact of their one-night stand a decade earlier. The reigning media view is that the $130,000 payment, transacted by President Trump’s then-personal attorney Michael Cohen, was a threat and thus a basis for Trump’s impeachment. Far closer to the truth, however, is that Ms. Daniels tried to blackmail Mr. Trump. Her current attempt to nullify a nondisclosure agreement underscores her self-serving motives.
This is rich. Robert Mueller now says that if he turns over evidence to the lawyers of defendants he has charged with crimes, the documents might find their way to foreign intelligence services. Mueller is right, especially when the defendants are Russians with close ties to Vladimir Putin and the Russian government.
The problem is of Mueller’s creation. When he indicted three business entities and 13 individuals in February, he knew it was unlikely they would ever show up in the United States to face trial. The indictments were nice window dressing because they had to do with actual Russian meddling in the 2016 election, unlike the rest of the investigation.