Michael Avenatti has been granted permission to represent himself at his own trial in Manhattan, setting the stage for him to directly confront his former client Stormy Daniels if and when she takes the stand.
As he left the courthouse on Tuesday, Avenatti said he felt comfortable representing himself. “I’m a trial lawyer. It’s what I’ve done for two decades. It’s my arena,” he said.
Avenatti, a California lawyer, is accused of stealing $300,000 of the money Daniels was owed for her autobiography. He is also charged with wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.
Avenatti became well known nationally in 2018 as he represented Daniels in lawsuits against Donald Trump. He was briefly something of a hero for many anti-Trumpers, but come 2020 he began a spectacular fall from grace that saw him sentenced to jail for trying to extort Nike out of millions of dollars.
Good morning, and welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of the Michael Avenatti trial in Manhattan for Wednesday 26 January.
Michael Avenatti’s feud with Stormy Daniels in trial: What happened between the two?
The relationship between Stormy Daniels and Michael Avenatti seemed to be solid in the spring of 2018 when they appeared outside a Manhattan court hearing concerning raids at the home and office of Michael Cohen, Mr Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer.
Mr Avenatti started considering running for president after becoming popular as an outspoken critic of Mr Trump on cable news.
Ms Daniels later signed a book deal, with Mr Avenatti writing the forward to the end result Full Disclosure, which was published in the autumn of 2018. In the book, Ms Daniels wrote about the alleged sexual encounter with Mr Trump and the communications that followed.
Later, Mr Avenatti was charged in three criminal cases about half a year after the book was released. One of the cases was the alleged fraud against Ms Daniels.
Here’s the full story:
Prosecutors to attempt to convict lawyer of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft in his third criminal trial in two years
Avenatti cast as thief and generous lawyer at criminal trial
California lawyer Michael Avenatti stole nearly $300,000 in book proceeds from porn star Stormy Daniels a prosecutor told jurors as the once high-flying attorney’s third criminal trial in two years began Monday.
Mr Avenatti has insisted he is innocent of wire fraud and aggravated identify theft charges and his lawyers say he is likely to testify during the trial in Manhattan federal court.
Assistant US Attorney Andrew Rohrbach told jurors that Mr Avenatti lied repeatedly to steal nearly $300,000 from Daniels, whom Mr Avenatti represented in 2018 in lawsuits against ex-President Donald Trump
“This is a case about a lawyer who stole from his client, a lawyer who lied to cover up his scheme. That lawyer is the defendant Michael Avenatti,” Mr Rohrbach said as he pointed at the 50-year-old on trial.
Defence attorney Andrew Dalack said his client didn’t steal any money and had a fee agreement to share any money from the book deal.
Read the full story:
A prosecutor has told a jury in an opening statement that California lawyer Michael Avenatti stole nearly $300,000 in book proceeds from porn star Stormy Daniels while a defense lawyer says it's not true
Michael Avenatti to cross-examine Stormy Daniels at his own trial
Mr Avenatti, who represented Ms Daniels when she sued former President Donald Trump, dismissed his public defenders in court on Tuesday.
He will now represent himself against the charges that he pocketed cash meant for Ms Daniels.
Mr Avenatti is now set to cross-examine Ms Daniels when she testifies on Wednesday.
Gustaf Kilander has the full story:
‘There has been a breakdown in the relationship between me and my counsel that speaks to the heart of my ability to mount a defense’
Avenatti says representing himself gives him the ‘the best chance at winning'
As Michael Avenatti left the courthouse on Tuesday after being granted permission to represent himself at his own trial in Manhattan, he told reporters the decision gives him “the best chance at winning”.
“I’m a trial lawyer. It’s what I’ve done for two decades. It’s my arena. It’s where I’m most at home. And I think it gives me the best chance at winning,” he told reporters.
“I am completely innocent in this case. It should have never been brought. And I’m hopeful that the jury at the end of the case is going to agree.”
Courtroom sketches from the trial of Michael Avenatti
A look at some courtroom sketches from the trial of Michael Avenatti.
Catch up: Avenatti’s $94m case against the US
Along with the trial now underway in New York, Michael Avenatti is fighting a very different legal battle: a lawsuit he’s brought against the US government over his treatement in jail.
Mr Avenatti is suing the government for $94m, claiming $1m in compensation for each day he says he was held in 24-hour solitary confinement or lockdown. According to his lawyers, he was treated very differently from other prisoners and was only allowed one book to read: Donald Trump’s Art of the Deal.
Jade Bremner has the story:
Stormy Daniel’s former lawyer is claiming $1 million for each day he says he was held in solitary confinement or lockdown
Avenatti: Michael Cohen wants to be me
Michael Avenatti may have fallen out with Stormy Daniels (to put it mildly), but his number one personal enemy remains Michael Cohen, the former personal lawyer to Donald Trump who facilitated the hush money payment Ms Daniels received.
Leaving court on Monday, Mr Avenatti delivered a rant explaining why he holds Mr Cohen in such contempt.
What happened between Michael Avenatti and Nike?
It’s been nearly two years since Michael Avenatti was convicted of trying to extort sportswear giant Nike for $25m via threats of unflattering media exposure. He was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for the crime, but has yet to report to prison pending a retrial in a separate fraud case against him that originally ended in a mistrial.
Here’s a report on a New York judgment last year that urged Californian authorities to get Mr Avenatti’s sentence underway.
New York prosecutors have asked a judge to order California lawyer Michael Avenatti to begin serving a 2 1/2-year prison term
How Stormy Daniels made up with Michael Cohen
While the Daniels-Avenatti courtroom duel is only now beginning in earnest, the story of Stormy Daniels’s relationship with Donald Trump and its fallout has been through myriad twists and turns – not just making bitter enemies out of erstwhile allies, but bringing together people who once found themselves at loggerheads.
One of the more remarkable moments came last year when Ms Daniels appeared on the Mea Culpa podcast hosted by the ex-Trump lawyer who paid her for her silence, Michael Cohen. In their hatchet-burying interview, Mr Cohen told her: “Both of our stories will be forever linked with Donald Trump but also with one another. Thanks for giving me a second chance.”
Take a look back here:
The porn actress Stormy Daniels says in a new interview that her battle is “just now starting,” alluding to a defamation lawsuit against former President Donald Trump that she took to the U.S. Supreme Court
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