Stormy Daniels kicked Michael Avenatti under the bus this week in a statement to the Daily Beast that has the potential to truly ruin not just his presidential aspirations, but his day job as a lawyer too. Daniels’ scorching allegations suggest that Avenatti instated a lawsuit against her wishes, as well as committing financial improprieties, and possibly fraud. She goes on to claim he spoke on her behalf without her knowledge or approval.
Show Her the Money
The porn star’s statement appears in response to the Beast’s reporting on a new crowdfunding campaign launched by Avenatti early in the week. He asked for support for her “courageous efforts.” The problem is that Ms. Daniels says she never authorized it: “[n]ow 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.”
Her previous campaign on legal cause crowdfunding website CrowdJustice raised well over half a million dollars before it was ended. What happened to all that dough? Stormy wants to know too:
“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.”
While that is bad, it may be explained away for a variety of reasons. Sadly, clients not being able to get a call back from their attorneys is so common it’s cliché. Daniels’ statement includes a more serious allegation – one that should see Avenatti disbarred if true – though it seems she may not understand how grievous his alleged conduct is. She said “I haven’t decided yet what to do about legal representation moving forward. Michael has been a great advocate in many ways.” But here’s the doozy – “[h]e filed a defamation case against Donald Trump against my wishes.”
Paying Trump’s Lawyers?
Not without her knowledge, but against her wishes! It’s hard to state how bad this is for Avenatti, if true. It would be a fraud upon the court, and it could generate separate causes of actions against him from both Daniels and Trump, as well as others who have been damaged by the suit.
Perhaps Stormy isn’t happy about paying for Trump’s legal bill, and that’s what generated this public flaying of her lawyer.
Daniels was ordered to pay the president’s legal fees for defending himself against the defamation suit she now claims Avenatti filed against her wishes. Trump used what’s called an anti-SLAPP law to make Daniels pay. Designed to protect speech from lawsuits made to shut people up, the anti-SLAPP laws allow for a mini-trial first on the issue of whether speech is protected. Daniels was held to have violated the law, and the judge who tossed her suit required that she pay Trump’s legal fees. He is requesting $341,559.50.
California lawyer John Steele, one of only 108 attorneys certified as a specialist in legal malpractice law by the California Bar, spoke exclusively to LibertyNation about the issue:
“Without commenting on Avenatti directly, we see this type of dispute between attorneys and clients when there was a failure to adequately advise the client of the financial downside of suing a defendant for arguably engaging in First Amendment Conduct.”
Mr. Steele could not recall hearing of a case where an attorney filed a suit in direct contravention of his client’s wishes.
For his part, Avenatti offered no rebuttal to the serious charges brought by Daniels. He claimed to be “Stormy’s biggest champion” and said the money went to security fees and other costs associated with litigation not including fees for him.
In a marked change from his usual all-offense attacks at Trump and Republicans on his frequently used Twitter account, Avenatti went soft focus, posting a snap of himself with his daughters.
In the wake of his arrest on charges of domestic abuse, and now what amounts to a serious legal ethics and malpractice charge, is there a political future for Michael Avenatti? In a world where Donald Trump is president, anything is possible.