Stormy Daniels is not pleased with her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, and that makes sense since now she’s on the hook for $350,000 in legal fees, after a judge dismissed the defamation lawsuit against Trump, which Daniels claims she never wanted brought in the first place. She has other issues as well, and presented a statement Wednesday to 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. 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.”
Avenatti submitted a statement of his own, saying that the vast majority of money raised has gone not towards his legal fees, but towards Daniels’ security “and similar other” expenses. Meanwhile, a New York University law school professor and ethics expert says that if Avenatti filed the defamation suit against Trump without Daniels’ consent, he could be on the hook for malpractice.
“If he filed the case with her name when it was clear that she told him not to, then he could be sued for that,” Gillers said. “He could be sued for malpractice. If true, she has a malpractice case against him. I emphasize if true. And if true, he would be subject to discipline but not as serious as disbarment.”
Avenatti’s star rose dramatically when he became Daniels’ advocate. It’s generally agreed that Michael Cohen was induced to cooperate with the Mueller probe as a result of the work Avenatti did on Daniels’ and Karen McDougals’ non disclosure agreements, a fact which made him the darling of the Resistance. Unfortunately, in recent months, Avenatti has had a lot of bad press, first starting with a Daily Beast article alleging that Avenatti lived a princely lifestyle while stiffing creditors and owing back taxes, then his arrest on suspicion of domestic violence, and finally long-time immigration lawyers told The Observer he was “fantastically irresponsible,” with respect to his representation of migrant children separated from their parents by Trump policies.
On these facts, it appears that Avenatti’s star has waned. However, if there’s one thing we’ve learned watching the Trump Show, wild plot twists and reversals are the norm, so it behooves us to keep an eye on Avenatti and Daniels, to see how this particular sub plot resolves.