Stormy Daniels’ lawyer skyrockets to chief Trump critic
LOS ANGELES — On Monday he was accepting an award from a legal foundation in Denver. He was in Los Angeles on Tuesday, fighting to unseal a lawsuit brought by a Playboy centerfold. On Wednesday he was in New York visiting children separated from their parents at the U.S. border and on Friday he was protesting President Donald Trump in London.
It’s official. Michael Avenatti is everywhere.
Before Avenatti began representing porn actress Stormy Daniels in her legal fight against President Donald Trump in February, he was virtually unknown outside of the California legal community. But in less than six months the litigator has become one of Trump’s chief critics.
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, has said she had sex with Trump in 2006, when he was married, but Trump has denied it. Days before the 2016 presidential election, she was paid $130,000 to stay silent in a deal handled by Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen. She is suing to invalidate the nondisclosure agreement.
With a media style only paralleled by Trump, Avenatti has pursued the president and those close to him relentlessly for months, taunting him in interviews and baiting him and his lawyers in tweets.
Last week, the no-holds-barred lawyer, who seems to have an endless supply of trash talk, tweeted that he would run against Trump if the president seeks re-election and no one else with a good chance of defeating him steps up.
“IF (big) he seeks re-election, I will run, but only if I think that there is no other candidate in the race that has a REAL chance at beating him. We can’t relive 2016. I love this country, our values and our people too much to sit by while they are destroyed. #FightClub #Basta,” he tweeted.
In recent weeks he’s begun representing dozens of parents whose children were separated from them at the U.S. border as a result of the Trump administration’s immigration policies.
He’s also taken the case of John Melendez, a comedian who claims he pranked Trump into calling him from Air Force One by pretending to be Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez.
“For better or worse, I have become an agent for hope for those that are opposing this president,” Avenatti told The Associated Press on Friday.
Avenatti, whose work had primarily focused on class-action and whistleblower cases, won a $454 million verdict in 2017 when he prevailed in a fraud case about surgical gowns. A judge later reduced the award to $20.7 million.
“I’ve been fortunate as a result of primarily the Stormy Daniels case, but also as a result of the $450 million jury verdict last year, that I now have a significant public platform that I can use for the benefit of my client and other causes that interest me,” he said. “I, unlike the president, intend on using that platform for good.”
When Daniels was arrested at an Ohio strip club early Thursday morning after she was accused of illegally rubbing undercover police officers’ faces against her bare breasts during a performance at a strip club, Avenatti broke the news on Twitter. Hours later, prosecutors agreed to drop the case because the state’s law against physical contact between strippers and customers applies only to someone who “regularly” performs at a club. In Daniels’ case, it was her first appearance the Columbus strip club.