I did not think it was possible for an attorney to out-prostitute an onscreen prostitute, but here we are. Michael Avenatti, Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, has become such a constant presence on television that one wonders if he really cares about truth and justice, or if he is just in it for the fame and eventual payday.
Over the last several weeks, Avenatti has become a regular on the cable news shows. He’s appeared on CNN speaking to Nicole Wallace and Jake Tapper, and was on Joy Reid’s show on MSNBC, among other appearances on television and radio.
On April 12, Avenatti couldn’t get to MSNBC fast enough after he learned, allegedly after speaking with Cohen’s attorney, that Cohen is likely to plead the Fifth Amendment in connection with Daniels’ law suit. Avenatti recently told Tapper that Cohen’s decision to invoke the Fifth Amendment is a “very, very big deal,” especially for Trump’s “right-hand counsel.”
It’s actually not that big of a deal in the proper context. As everyone now knows, Cohen is under federal criminal investigation and this longtime criminal defense attorney will tell you that invoking the Fifth Amendment under such circumstances is about as routine as Avenatti’s inflammatory cable news appearances.
This is where I take issue with Avenatti. While he’s an attorney at law, he’s acting like he’s on an episode of Maury Povich about to reveal that Stormy fathered a child by the president.
Most recently, Avenatti sensationally proclaimed that President Trump will not finish out his term and will “resign the presidency.” Even Tapper commented to Avenatti that’s a “pretty wild claim.” While Avenatti was short on specifics, he replied that there “are a lot of shoes left to drop” and that Cohen will “flip” on this president. Avenatti also repeated his new catch-phrase, that Cohen knows where the “bodies are buried.” It was difficult to watch the interview and not laugh a little.
It’s no mystery what Avenatti is doing. He thinks he’s ringmaster of this three-ring circus. Admittedly, he’s getting exactly what he wants: attention. But again, he’s an attorney acting like a (low-level) publicist. As another attorney on Twitter noted, his actions are “distasteful and unprofessional.”
Avenatti recently released a sketch of a man who allegedly threatened Daniels back in 2011, and put a copyright with his name in the bottom right-hand corner of the sketch. (The sketch was famously mocked online because it bore a resemblance to Stormy’s ex-husband, Tom Brady, and many other “celebrities.”) Avenatti tweeted a picture of a DVD to titillate his Twitter followers and allow for wild speculation as to what could possibly be on the CD.
To much fanfare and press coverage, he and his client unnecessarily showed up at a hearing in New York federal court relating to the search warrants executed on Cohen’s business. Avenatti even blocked this author on Twitter for pointing out his shenanigans. (Although I understand that I am not alone, as he’s been blocking anyone who criticizes him.)
The truth is that at the end of the day, Avenatti has no idea what’s going to happen to Cohen or Trump, and the only shoes he knows about are the expensive ones he will be buying if a report by NBC News is true. On April 20, NBC News reported that multiple talent agencies have been reaching out to Avenatti. (Think Ari Gold on “Entourage” trying to secure the next “big thing.”)
Surely, Avenatti’s end game is to capitalize on his current representation of an onscreen prostitute who allegedly had a one-night stand with president more than a decade ago. Why else would he be publicly commenting on things that have nothing or very little to do with his client’s actual claim?
To be fair, none of this is a knock on his abilities as a lawyer, although perhaps Avenatti’s retreat from the law might not be such a bad idea. On April 7, 2018, the Seattle Times reported that Avenatti has been embroiled in legal troubles relating to his purchase of a coffee company at auction. Since the purchase five years ago, the Seattle Times reports Avenatti’s investment company has been named in more than 50 state or federal complaints “including commercial lawsuits, breach of lease actions and warrants for unpaid taxes.”
The Seattle Times also found that just last month a complaint was made to the California State Bar by another attorney, making some serious allegations of misconduct. Among other eyebrow-raising claims, the complaint accuses Avenatti of using one of his companies as an “illegal pump and dump” to deprive state taxing authorities of the requisite tax withholdings. Indeed, the complaint attaches a copy of an alleged federal tax lien against Avenatti’s investment company and Avenatti personally to the tune of $4.9 million dollars. What’s that saying—“People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones”?
Attorneys have a responsibility to act with dignity and handle their cases with a high level of professionalism. Avenatti seemingly disagrees. One must wonder if maybe it’s time for Avenatti to take his own advice: “basta.”