Michael Avenatti

Michael Avenatti

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Updated Jul 14, 2019 at 04:50AM EDT by Y F.

Added Oct 26, 2018 at 12:22PM EDT by Matt.

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Michael Avenatti is an American attorney best known for formerly representing Storm Daniels in legal proceedings against United States President Donald Trump.


Stormy Daniels's Lawsuit Against Donald Trump

Michael Avenatti rose to public prominence representing Stormy Daniels, the adult film actor and director, who sued President Trump in a bid to void a non-disclosure agreement regarding a prior sexual encounter.

In a lawsuit filed March 6th, 2018 to a Los Angeles court,[1] adult film actor Stormy Daniels claims that the hush agreement she had with Trump is non-binding because Trump never signed the document. Attached to the lawsuit is the full hush agreement negotiated between Trump, Daniels, and Cohen. The agreement uses pseudonyms--Trump's pseudonym is "David Dennison" and Daniels' is "Peggy Peterson." A side letter agreement reveals the true names. "David Dennison" did not sign the agreement as "Peggy Peterson" had on October 28th, 2016. Because of this omission, Daniels believes she is free to discuss the affair she had with Trump.

The inclusion of Trump in the agreement undermines Cohen's claim that he had paid the hush money out of his own pocket without Trump's knowledge.[2] Additionally, the lawsuit came one day after The Wall Street Journal[3] reported that Cohen's payment to Daniels was marked as suspicious by the Treasury Department and that Cohen had privately complained that he had not been reimbursed for the hush money.

The morning of March 7th, Daniels' lawyer Michael Avenatti appeared on The Today Show to discuss the lawsuit. He alleged that Daniels and Trump did have an affair and argued it was "ludicrous" for Cohen to suggest Trump did not know about the payment.

Fight With Donald Trump Jr.

On October 9th, 2018, NBC News media reporter Dylan Byers tweeted that Stormy Daniels lawyer Michael Avenatti proposed a three-round mixed martial arts fight with Donald Trump Jr., with all proceeds going to charity (shown below, left). That day, Avenatti tweeted "I'm in" and that 50% of his portion of the proceeds would be directed to "rebuiling Puerto Rico" and 50% would go toward the anti-sexual violence organization RAINN (shown below, right).

Dylan Byers @DylanByers I'm having lunch with Michael Avenatti @MichaelAvenatti at the Vanity Fair Summit and he's proposing a three-round mixed martial arts fight with Donald Trump Jr. @DonaldJTrumpJr for charity. No joke. Michael Avenatt.幸@ MichaelAvenatti-22h This would be for two great causes. I'm in. Dylan Byers@DylanByers I'm having lunch with Michael Avenatti @MichaelAvenatti at the Vanity Fair Summit and he's proposing a three-round mixed-martial arts fight with Donald Trump Jr. @DonaldJTrumpJr for charity. No joke. Michael Avenatti @MichaelAvenatti My portion of the proceeds from the fight will be split 50% to rebuilding Puerto Rico and 50% to @RAINN. Just waiting on Bif to confirm. #Basta


Avenatti is known for his brash personality and willingness to respond to criticism and insults. On April 7th, 2018, the Los Angeles Times[4] published an article entitled "Trump meets his match: Stormy Daniels' combative lawyer Michael Avenatti." They wrote:

"Michael Avenatti, the newly famous lawyer for porn star Stormy Daniels, has more than a few things in common with President Trump.

He's brash. He's media savvy. He enjoys the high life. He revels in antagonizing opponents.

In short, Trump may have met his match in this Newport Beach lawyer whose client, now America's best-known stripper, is suing the president to break free of a deal that bars her from discussing what she says was a one-night stand with Trump in 2006.

With a swagger worthy of the young Trump who barged his way into New York's tabloids decades ago, Avenatti has spent weeks shuttling among Manhattan TV studios to taunt the president and his fixer Michael Cohen.

His pugnacious edge makes Avenatti a natural on cable news."


"White Male" Comments

On October 25th, 2018, Avenatti was quoted in a Time[5] magazine profile on his potential 2020 presidential bid saying that the 2020 candidate "better be a white male." He said:

"I think it better be a white male. When you have a white male making the arguments, they carry more weight. Should they carry more weight? Absolutely not. But do they? Yes."

That day, Avenatti's comments and his character were the subject of much criticism on Twitter, where people expressed their disappointment and negative impression of the lawyer (examples below).

Dude, F--- of time.com/5434317/michae... crisis. The Democrats have not been this powerless since the 1920s, and their members have responded by nominating a historic numbes of women and people of color for office. But when it comes to the party's presidential nominee in 2020, Avenatti thinks in different terms. "I think it better be a white male," he says. He hastens to add that he wishes it weren't so, but it's undeniable that people listen to white men more than they do others it's why he's been successful representing Daniels and immigrant mothers, he says. "When you have a white male making the| Michael Avenatti said-out loud to reporters-that the democratic presidential nominee in 2020 "better be a white male" because "when you have a white male make the arguments, they carry more weight." Better be a white male, my ass. He better go sit down time.com/5434317/michae... he considered himseif a bully. He didnt try to whitewash it. "Look, I can be aggressive at times,"he says. 1 didn't get to whene Iam by being a pushover .K? But like Trump, he prides himself on finishing fights other peaple start. " don't generaly go after people oflensivehc" Avenatti says, "but if somebody comes after me, Iwill absolutely meet them every step of the way and then some, no question When Avenatts started thinking about running for President, his first call was to David Betras, a lawyer in Youngstown, Ohio, and chaiman of the Mahoning County Democratic Party. In May 2016, Betras had noticed blue colar whites in the region gravitating to Trump, and he drafted a memo to Hilary Cinton's campaign, warrning that she was in danger of losing states lke Pennsylvania Michigan and Ohio. After Trump won, Betras had a brief star tum as the matn who'd predicted it all n July, Aovenatti fiew to eastern Ohio for dinner with Betras, then returned for his first poitical appearance, an annuel dinner for local Democrats. "When I look at the national Demecratic Party, Isee weakness. I see fear' Betras says. "Michael has picked up the corpse of the Democratic Party and breathed some life into A run for President would thust Avenatti into the middle of the party's identity crisis. The Democrats have not been this powerless since the 1920s, and their members have people of color for office. But when it comes to the party's presidential nominee n 2020, Avenatti thinks in different terms. "1 think it better be a white male," he says, He hastens to add that he wishes it weren't so, but it's undeniable that people listen to white men more than they do athers; it's why he's been successful represening Daniels and iremigrant mothers, he says. "When you have a white male making the arguments, they cerry more weight, he says. Should thery carry more weight? Absolutely not. But do they? Yes by nominating a historic number of women and Beneath the pugnacious persona, Avenatti's own political instincts are rather conventional He's for Medicare for all but against abolishing ICE, and fears Democrats are overreaching on immigration. in his speeches, he advocates secure borders and calls on Democrats to woo back Midwestorm white men、His Michael Avenatti said in an interview with Time magazine the Democratic Party's choice to take on Trump in 2020 should be a white man I think it better be a white male" Avenatti This is not only ignorant, but racist and sexist. F--- Avenatti living in his white privilege

Avenatti later claimed that he had been "misquoted" in the profile.[6] He said:

"I was misquoted, and it was taken out of context."

"A big tenet of my speeches is that we need more white men standing up and speaking up to defend women and minorities. When they do that, it carries weight among other white men."

Domestic Violence Arrest

On November 14th, 2018, TMZ[7] reported that Avenatti had been arrested by LAPD officers for domestic violence after allegedly leaving his estranged wife "swollen and bruised." According to the article, his wife ran out of his apartment while yelling "I can't believe you did this to me" while talking on her cellphone. Avenatti allegedly chased after her while yelling "she hit me first" and "this is bullshit."

That day, BuzzFeed News reporter Brandon Wall tweeted that Avenatti had been "arrested for domestic violence" and was in police custody in Los Angeles (shown below).

Brandon Wall @Walldo BuzzFeed News confirms Michael Avenatti has been arrested for domestic violence and is in LAPD custody.

The following day, Avenatti posted a tweet calling out Jacob Wohl and Surefire Intelligence (shown below).[8]

Michael Avenatti @MichaelAvenatti First Mueller and now me. When we are fully exonerated I am coming for you Jacob Wohl aka Surefire.

Nike Extortion Arrest and Bank Fraud Charges

On March 25th, 2019, Avenatti was arrested for attempting to extort more than $20 million from Nike, threatening that if he did not receive the payment, he would release damaging information on the company.[9][10] It later came out that his co-conspirator was Mark Geragos, who represents Colin Kaepernick, a Nike-sponsored athlete.[11] The day prior to his arrest, Avenatti tweeted that he would be holding a press conference regarding a scandal about Nike (shown below). He also faces charges of bank fraud and wire fraud in California, after allegedly embezzling a client's money to pay his own debts.[12]

Michael Avenatti @MichaelAvenatt Follow Tmrw at 11 am ET, we will be holding a press conference to disclose a major high school/college basketball scandal perpetrated by @Nike that we have uncovered. This criminal conduct reaches the highest levels of Nike and involves some of the biggest names in college basketball. 1:16 PM-25 Mar 2019

Stormy Daniels responded to the news by saying she was "saddened but not shocked" by the arrest (shown below). The two had ended their legal relationship a month prior. If convicted in New York, Avenatti could face a maximum of 50 years in prison.[9]

Stormy Daniels @StormyDaniels Follow My statement regarding my former attorney Mr. Avenatti Knowing what I know now about Michael Avenatti, I am saddened but not shocked by news reports that he has been criminally charged today. I made the decision more than a month ago to terminate Michael's services after discovering that he had dealt with me extremely dishonestly and there will be more announcements to come. I ask that the media respect my decision to withhold further public comment regarding Mr. Avenatti at this time. 3:00 PM-25 Mar 2019


On April 11th, 2019, federal prosecutors in California announced "the filing of a 36-count indictment naming Michael Avenatti."[15] These charges included hiding a $4 million settlement from a mentally ill paraplegic person.[16] If convicted on all charges, Avenatti faces a maximum of 335 years in prison.[16] Avenatti tweeted “I am entitled to a FULL presumption of innocence and am confident that justice will be done once ALL of the facts are known,” but the tweet has since been deleted.

On April 29th, Avenatti pleaded not guilty to all charges and a trial date was set for June 25th.[18] He has yet to secure legal council.

Kara Finnstrom @KaraFinnstrom Follow No cameras allowed in Santa Ana federal courthouse today, sketch shows Atty. Michael #Avenatti as he entered plea of "not guilty to all charges" @CBSLA 3:32 PM - 29 Apr 2019 from Ronald Reagan Federal Building

Nate Silver joked that Avenatti was in a race with Jacob Wohl to see who could commit the most crimes (shown below, left). Ben Shapiro also compared Avenatti to Wohl in a joke saying they would end up in their own version of Orange Is the New Black (shown belo, right).

te Silver Follow os a@NateSilver538 Are Jacob Wohl and Michael Avenatti in some kind of dare to see who can be accused of the most crimes? Lachlan Markay@lachlan NEW: Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman have been trying to recruit young men to falsely claim they were sexually assaulted by Pete Buttigieg One recorded their convo and gave us the aui... Show this thread 10:27 PM -29 Apr 2019 Ben Shapiro @benshapiro Follow The Wohl-Avenatti version of "Orange ls The New Black" is going to be must-miss TV. Lachlan Markay@lachlarn NEW: Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman have been trying to recruit young men to falsely claim they were sexually assaulted by Pete Buttigieg. One recorded their convo and gave us the audio.... Show this thread 10:27 PM -29 Apr 2019

Relation to NXVIM Cult Case

On March 27th, 2019, the judge in the NXVIM case, Nicholas Garaufis, asked the defense team of Claire Bronfam, heiress to the Seagrams liquor heiress accused of bankrolling the cult, if they had been in contact with Avenatti.[13] Bronfam's lawyer is Mark Geragos, who had recently been implicated in the Avenatti arrest on the Nike extortion charge, admitted that he had been in contact with Avenatti about joining the case. The stress caused Bronfam to faint and carried out of the courtroom in a stretcher. The judge then ordered court to reconvene as he grilled the defense on the lawyers involved in the case. After she returned to court, Bronfam admitted to briefly retaining Avenatti before hiring Geragos after finding him online.[14]

Stormy Daniels Fraud Charges

On May 22nd, 2019, Avenatti was charged with using a doctored document to divert $300,000 due to Daniels from a book deal to himself to pay personal and business expenses.[19] On Twitter, Avenatti denied the charges, saying, "No monies relating to Ms. Daniels were ever misappropriated or mishandled. She received millions of dollars worth of legal services and we spent huge sums in expenses. She directly paid only $100.00 for all that she received. I look forward to a jury hearing the evidence.”

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman stated, "Far from zealously representing his client, Avenatti, as alleged, instead engaged in outright deception and theft, victimizing rather than advocating for his client." When Avenatti was indicted on defrauding Nike, Daniels had stated she was “saddened but not shocked" and that she had fired Avenatti a month earlier after “discovering that he had dealt with me extremely dishonestly.”

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