Ex-Stormy Daniels lawyer Michael Avenatti raises doubt about Trump indictment
Ex-Stormy Daniels lawyer Michael Avenatti raises doubt about Trump indictmentRyan King
March 24, 07:12 PM March 24, 07:12 PM
Former Stormy Daniels lawyer Michael Avenatti raised doubts about the Manhattan district attorney’s case against former President Donald Trump.
A staunch critic of Trump, Avenatti highlighted the unreliability of star witness Michael Cohen. He argued that the former president’s legal team will tear through his testimony in a hypothetical trial and likely put any indictment reliant on Cohen in jeopardy.
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“I have been consistent for 5 yrs: NEVER underestimate the ability of Michael Cohen to screw something up by engaging in stupidity, lies, and sheer f***ery. NEVER. #zeronothero,” Avenatti tweeted.
“Rule: If you have to meet with a witness over 20 times to get to the alleged ‘facts’ and the ‘truth,’ RUN!!! Because you’ve got yourself a terrible witness who can’t be trusted and might just crater your career and your reputation,” he added.
Cohen was Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer from 2006 to 2018. During the tail-end of the 2016 election cycle, Cohen took out a home equity line of credit and then wired $130,000 via a shell company named Essential Consultants LLC to Daniels’s attorney, according to court records. Daniels is also known as Stephanie Gregory Clifford.
The money was transferred in exchange for Daniels’s agreement to sign a nondisclosure agreement to keep quiet about an alleged affair with Trump roughly a decade prior.
In March 2018, Avenatti worked on a lawsuit on behalf of Daniels against Trump and Essential Consultants LLC to nix the NDA. He waged a massive public relations campaign, railing against both Trump and Cohen in a flurry of TV interviews to great fanfare at the time by Trump critics. About a month later in April, the FBI raided Cohen’s home and office.
By August 2018, Cohen pleaded guilty to a litany of federal charges, including campaign finance violations connected to the Daniels payment. Later that month, reports indicated that the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office was investigating the case and was scrutinizing Trump’s business empire in connection with the Daniels payment.
Recently, numerous reports have indicated that Manhattan DA is mulling charges against Trump for falsification of documents related to the reimbursement of Cohen paired with a campaign finance violation. Several legal experts told the Washington Examiner that the rumored case against Trump is novel and untested.
Avenatti previously cast aspersions on the case.
“There are many critical facts and pieces of evidence (texts, emails, etc.) relating to the hush money scandal that have yet to see the light of day. And they will unfortunately be very damaging to the prosecution if Trump stands trial. At this point, you simply can’t build a case on the testimony of Cohen & Daniels,” he tweeted.
In March 2019, Daniels cut ties with Avenatti. She later recalled how she “began witnessing his lies and dishonesty until I realized I too became his victim.”
Avenatti was sentenced to four years behind bars for defrauding Daniels in June 2022. Avenatti was also slapped with prison time over a guilty plea for embezzling millions from several clients, bringing his total sentencing to over 20 years in prison.
Both Cohen and Avenatti were disbarred in New York. Avenatti was also disbarred in California.
Cohen has reportedly met with prosecutors and a special grand jury in the case multiple times. Daniels has met with investigators as well. He has publicly maintained that Trump directed him to pay Daniels. Trump has heartily denied wrongdoing in the case.
Earlier this week, the special grand jury reportedly heard from lawyer Robert Costello, who consulted with Cohen before his guilty plea. Costello dubbed Cohen a “serial liar” and drew attention to his guilty plea to perjury for lying before Congress in 2018.
“Atty Joe Tacopina is no Rudy Giuliani/Sydney Powell. The guy knows his way around a criminal courtroom. He will destroy Michael ‘Dumb as a Box of Rocks’ Cohen on the stand, esp. seeing as Cohen publicly lied for 15 mos. and now won’t stop talking on TV. #terriblewitness,” Avenatti added.
Trump’s attorney in the case, Joe Tacopina, had prior communications with Daniels that were subsequently turned over to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and could complicate his ability to represent Trump and cross-examine Daniels, CNN reported. Precise details of those communications remain somewhat murky, but Tacopina has insisted it’s not a conflict.
Trump dubiously claimed that he would be “arrested on Tuesday” of this week, but that never came to fruition. His campaign enjoyed a fundraising boom amid speculation that an arrest was imminent. The special grand jury in the case has been meeting Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, per CBS.
Should an indictment come down, it will mark the first time in U.S. history a former president is indicted. President Ulysses S. Grant was arrested in 1872 for speeding.