Can Michael Avenatti weather this storm?
Stormy Daniels has accused her attorney, Michael Avenatti, of suing President Donald Trump for defamation against her wishes and starting a fundraising site for her legal defense fund without her knowledge, according to a bombshell report from The Daily Beast.
“For months I’ve asked Michael Avenatti to give me accounting information about the fund my supporters so generously donated to for my safety and legal defense,” said Daniels in a statement given to The Daily Beast. “He has repeatedly ignored those requests. Days ago I demanded again, repeatedly, that he tell me how the money was being spent and how much was left. Instead of answering me, without my permission or even my knowledge Michael launched another crowdfunding campaign to raise money on my behalf. I learned about it on Twitter.”
“Michael has been a great advocate in many ways. I’m tremendously grateful to him for aggressively representing me in my fight to regain my voice,” she continued. “But in other ways Michael has not treated me with the respect and deference an attorney should show to a client. He has spoken on my behalf without my approval. He filed a defamation case against Donald Trump against my wishes. He repeatedly refused to tell me how my legal defense fund was being spent. Now he has launched a new crowdfunding campaign using my face and name without my permission and attributing words to me that I never wrote or said. I’m deeply grateful to my supporters and they deserve to know their money is being spent responsibly. I don’t want to hurt Michael, but it’s time to set the record straight.”
Asked about Daniels’ statement, Avenatti said that the recent crowdfunding effort was “simply a refresh of the prior campaign, designed to help defray some of Stormy’s expenses,” and that Daniels’ retention agreement had stipulated “she would pay me $100.00 and that any and all other monies raised via a legal fund would go toward my legal fees and costs.”
“Instead, the vast majority of the money raised has gone toward her security expenses and similar other expenses,” said Avenatti. “I am and have always been Stormy’s biggest champion. I have personally sacrificed an enormous amount of money, time and energy toward assisting her because I believe in her. I have always been an open book with Stormy as to all aspects of her cases and she knows that.”
Avenatti, a self-proclaimed potential 2020 presidential candidate, has been facing mounting criticism, and legal trouble, in recent days. Earlier this month, the lawyer was arrested on domestic violence charges by 24-year-old actress Mareli Miniutti after an incident in which he allegedly dragged her out of their shared apartment into a public hallway after an argument about money. Miniutti has since filed for a restraining order against Avenatti as well. Los Angeles prosecutors, however, have declined to press charges against the firebrand lawyer.
In October, it was announced that Avenatti would face an investigation from the Justice Department over allegations that he lied about sworn statements given by witnesses during the hearings for then-Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Avenatti had represented Kavanaugh accuser Julie Swetnick and other anonymous witnesses who alleged they have knowledge of sexual misconduct by the judge. In an interview with NBC, one of the anonymous witnesses said that she no longer trusted Avenatti because she felt he had “twisted my words.”
According to legal experts, Daniels could also sue Avenatti for malpractice if her claim that he filed a defamation lawsuit without her consent is true. It’s not clear what any of this will mean for Avenatti’s White House aspirations or the future of his legal career, but if things go south for him he’ll presumably have a lot more time to spend on an apparent hobby he has: taking selfies with adoring women.
Read the full story at The Daily Beast.