by WorldTribune Staff, May 11, 2018
Michael Avenatti, attorney for Stormy Daniels, seems to be as much an anti-Trump cable news celebrity as lawyer these days. But inquiring minds want to know: Who is bankrolling his operation?
Avenatti “wants to make the discussion all about where Michael Cohen, President Trump’s personal attorney, got his money but, to have clean hands, Avenatti needs to come forward with exactly who is financing his operation, who his sources were for detailed banking information, and whether he really is an attorney solely representing Stormy Daniels or just using her as cover to wage a political operation,” Mark Penn, former adviser to President Bill Clinton, wrote for The Hill on May 10.
“From the beginning, this has been fishy,” Penn added. “Daniels’s previous lawyer advised her to stick to her agreements. In contrast, Avenatti okayed her violating with impunity her non-disclosure agreement on ’60 Minutes’ despite a binding arbitration judgment against her. She acknowledged on Twitter that she is not paying for her lawyer. So who is? And did he indemnify her against all multimillion-dollar penalties?”
Penn, who was an adviser to President Clinton during his impeachment, noted that it “is highly unlikely that the theory Avenatti is pounding away at – that Russians paid for Daniels – holds any water or Robert Mueller would not have passed the investigation on to U.S. attorneys in New York.”
Avenatti this week released to the media a report detailing consulting payments to Cohen, much of which has been verified.
In their own court filing, Cohen’s attorneys Stephen Ryan and Todd Harrison accused Avenatti of making false accusations, and publishing “numerous incorrect statements to the public in an apparent attempt to prejudice and discredit” Cohen.
In a letter to federal Judge Kimba Wood, who is overseeing the Cohen case, Ryan and Harrison wrote that some of the information Avenatti published did appear to come from Cohen’s actual bank records and claimed that their client “has no reason to believe that Mr. Avenatti is in lawful possession of these records.”
“[Avenatti] should be required to explain to this Court how he came to possess and release this information,” they wrote.
The release of the “report” by Avenatti, Penn noted, “also raises the question of where and how did he get this detailed financial information because he didn’t find it on Google. This is the kind of information that would have been known only by the Treasury Department, his banks or by prosecutors, raising some serious questions about what kind of operation Avenatti is running. Is there a team of people digging this up? Are they paying off sources? Is Fusion GPS involved? Are there political donors behind making this campaign work? He can’t be both an attorney and then participate as an officer of the court in trafficking illegally obtained information.”
Avenatti “has been given a free, unfettered media perch on TV to spread his stuff without the networks forcing him to meet any disclosure requirements, saying that he is Daniels’s attorney when someone else entirely is paying for this operation is not true disclosure that allows the viewer to evaluate the source and potential conflicts,” Penn wrote. “He is now being given deference as though he is a journalist interested in protecting unverified sources while he makes headline-grabbing pronouncements. Lawyers need to disclose the source of their evidence.”
Penn concluded: “Avenatti can’t be given a pass on these issues. Americans are entitled to know just who this guy is, who is writing his checks and whether he legally obtained his information.”