Usually a status conference hearing is not too exciting, but when the parties involved are the sitting president of the United States, his alleged porn star mistress, his former personal attorney, and last but not least a superstar media lawyer namely Michael Avenatti, all bets are off. The hearing in the Michael Cohen case in U.S. District Court was originally scheduled as a check in on the privilege review of materials seized in the FBI raid (which by the by, generated a bill of over $47,000 for one week’s work by the special master) but most of the action centered around Avenatti’s pro hoc vice motion, which would allow Avenatti, a California attorney, to appear in the Cohen case. Trump’s and Cohen’s attorneys lashed out at Avenatti, and predictably, he gave as good as he got. Business Insider:
“I’ve never seen an attorney conduct himself the way Mr. Avenatti conducted himself,” Ryan said. “What Mr. Avenatti did in releasing those records was entirely improper.”
Ryan said Avenatti “intended to cause harm to my client” and “succeeded,” charging that Avenatti’s actions were “reckless.” Ryan said Avenatti included information about additional people named Michael Cohen in his report, calling it a “drive-by shooting of anyone named Michael Cohen” and “a premeditated drive-by shooting of my client’s rights.”
Avenatti fired back when he had his next opportunity, insisting that “95%” of what Ryan said was incorrect and that he and his client “did not do anything improper relating to the release of any information concerning Mr. Cohen.”
Avenatti said he had not been contacted by the Treasury Department inspector general or any law-enforcement agency investigating the leak of Cohen’s financial documents, known as “Suspicious Activity Reports.”
Joanna Hendon, one of Trump’s attorney’s, took the opportunity to do a Perry Mason turn and “’present an Exhibit to the court.” A purportedly stunned Avenatti stated, “Your honor, I have no idea what that is.”
Hendon presented emails from Avenatti that appeared to contradict his sworn affidavit to Wood. The affidavit said Daniels was represented by Avenatti & Associates, another Avenatti firm. Letterhead from the emails Avenatti exchanged with Trump’s lawyers regarding Daniels displayed the Eagan Avenatti firm. (Of note, Avenatti uses his Eagan Avenatti email to discuss the case with reporters.)
“When someone, especially a lawyer, is prepared to be not straightforward, and cute, and I would say misleading, with the court, on the tiniest of matters, it raises a serious question about how that person, how that lawyer will conduct themselves on the more serious matters,” Hendon said.
Judge Kimba Wood said that Avenatti’s “publicity tour” would have to come to an end, the rationale being that if Avenatti’s pro hoc vice motion is granted and he’s allowed to appear before the court, his media presence could taint a jury trial. Additionally, the judge said no more document dumps and no opinions on Cohen’s abilities.
Avenatti said outside the courthouse that the signatures on the emails don’t mean anything and that he has “done nothing wrong with regard to the release of information.”
“I think that today will become a seminal moment in our nation’s modern history because we have an admission that the attorney for the president of the United States was recording conversations with the president for years on end, and those recordings were seized by the FBI and they presently exist,” Avenatti said.
Be clear: We are going to continue to bring the facts and evidence to the American people so they can judge for themselves what happened. This is a search for the truth. We will use sunlight as the ultimate disinfectant. Let the chips fall where they may. #TrumpTapes #Basta
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) May 30, 2018
However the chips may fall, Avenatti always has a career as a real television journalist waiting for him, and that remark is not meant facetiously.