Are we approaching the end-stages of whatever weird journey that attorney/presidential hopeful/attention seeker Michael Avenatti has been taking us for the past several years? It sure is starting to feel that way.
On Wednesday, adult film star Stormy Daniels told The Daily Beast that Avenatti, who has represented her throughout her various legal wranglings with President Donald Trump and his former attorney Michael Cohen, had allegedly filed a (since dismissed) defamation lawsuit against the president “against my wishes.”
Daniels also alleged that Avenatti has been dodged her questions regarding how her legal defense fees were being used, and even opened a new crowdfunding campaign “using my face and name without my permission and attributing words to me that I never wrote or said.”
In an email to Splinter, Avenatti denied any wrongdoing, writing:
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. You need only look back at her numerous prior interviews where she states we talk and communicate multiple times every day about her cases.
The retention agreement Stormy signed back in February provided that 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. The most recent campaign was simply a refresh of the prior campaign, designed to help defray some of Stormy’s expenses.
Avenatti also issued the same statement to the Daily Beast. I have reached out to Avenatti a second time to see if he would address Daniels’ specific claim about filing the defamation suit against her wishes, and will update this story if he responds.
This all feels like it was inevitable. While Avenatti has undoubtedly been a powerhouse of sorts in his dogged pursuit of Cohen and Trump regarding their financial crimes covering up Daniels’ affair with the now-president, he’s also exuded an intense air of grift—pivoting from his role as Daniels’ attorney/advocate to cable TV appearance after cable TV appearance. He even reportedly considering a show of his own.
On top of that, Avenatti’s used his time in the spotlight to launch a semi-shady political PAC, ostensibly to help establish some bona fides ahead of a possible run for the White House, something that would have been unimaginable had he not made himself a household name through his work on Daniels’ case. And that’s not even scratching the surface of his alleged financial troubles, or recent arrest for domestic violence, which he’s vociferously denied committing.
Daniels didn’t totally throw Avenatti under the bus, however. In her statement to The Daily Beast, she went out of her way to call Avenatti “a great advocate in many ways,” insisting that “I don’t want to hurt Michael,” and saying that she hasn’t yet decided “what to do about legal representation moving forward.” So while this episode may signal the beginning of the end for the Michael Avenatti show (or at least, this iteration of it), we’re not there yet, folks.
Daniels’ full statement to the Daily Beast is below:
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. 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.
I haven’t decided yet what to do about legal representation moving forward. 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. 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. The truth has always been my greatest ally.
My goal is the same as it has always been—to stand up for myself and take back my voice after being bullied and intimidated by President Trump and his minions. One way or another I’m going to continue in that fight, and I want everyone who has stood by me to know how profoundly grateful I am for their support.