The bombastic legal adviser to Stormy Daniels is taking cues from the era of O.J. Simpson and Monica Lewinsky.
All of the elements have worked in Avenatti’s favor: the missteps of President Trump’s lawyers and media defenders, the desire in Resistance America for a counterpoint to Trump’s dominance, and the eagerness of cable news to amplify and obsess over people who cause a spectacle.
.. Of course, this has long ceased to be just about Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, and her legal dealings with the president with whom she says she had an affair. Daniels says Trump bought her silence—for a while—through his lawyer/fixer Michael Cohen for $130,000. The saga has taken on a life of its own, with Avenatti treating it like an episodic television show, teasing information reveals, getting into all-out scraps with critics, and generally making it a capital-T Thing.
.. “I’m the lawyer for Stormy Daniels in the first instance and I’m the lawyer for the truth in the second instance,” he said on MSNBC last week.
.. It’s a field in which lawyers often operate as “lone wolves,”
.. Avenatti is not the first lawyer to rely heavily on media attention to litigate his case, nor is he the first to do this in a case involving the president. There are examples in the not-so-distant past: Monica Lewinsky’s lawyer William Ginsburg, famous for inventing the “full Ginsburg” maneuver of doing all of the Sunday talk shows the same day, and the lawyers for Paula Jones, who sued Bill Clinton for sexual harassment in 1994.
Joseph Camaratta, one of Jones’s lawyers, said he saw similarities in what Avenatti was doing “in the sense that you wanted to move the case along, keep the president on his heels, and, to the extent permitted, use the media as a tool in the toolbox.”
.. Camaratta said Avenatti had done a “masterful job” getting Daniels out from under the NDA. “He wants to invalidate the arbitration, he wants to take the president’s deposition. These are all things I’d be doing. These are all the right things to do for an aggressive trial lawyer.”
.. Alan Dershowitz, who worked on O.J. Simpson’s defense team and who has become a Trump confidant, said that Avenatti’s approach is the right one if he’s truly doing it for Daniels’s benefit and not just for himself.
.. “Here the object is not just to win the lawsuit, it’s to destroy the presidency. It’s to create problems for Trump.”
.. whereas the Simpson case unfolded during the early rise of cable news, the Daniels case is playing out in a landscape dominated by social media. Everything is faster, and there are more news cycles per day.
.. Ken White has criticized Avenatti’s threatening reporters who have written about him—something that has happened several times. An email he sent to Daily Caller reporters threatening to sue them, for example, was in White’s view poorly executed because it failed on a number of levels to be a credible threat, neglecting to list specific complaints and identifying itself as off the record, a demand for secrecy that makes the substance of Avenatti’s complaint seem specious.
.. On Twitter, White coined a term—“Avenattos”—for Avenatti’s adoring followers, whom he sees as analogous to Trump’s
.. Avenatti, he said, is “beating Trump at his own game.”
.. Avenatti, who briefly changed his Twitter avatar to a version of Shepard Fairey’s famous Barack Obama poster but with his image instead of Obama’s and his catchphrase “Basta”—meaning “enough” in Spanish or Italian—instead of “Hope,”
.. Avenatti has said he would like to face off against Giuliani on Fox and Friends.
.. “He’s out-lawyered them and out-media’d them. It’s an easier job because he has an easier client.”
.. Turley said. He added that the NDA had been poorly constructed, giving an opening for Avenatti to argue that his client shouldn’t be bound by it.
.. Trump’s lawyers, Turley said, had “tripped every wire that Avenatti has put in front of them.”
.. agent Jay Sures had pitched television executives on a Crossfire-style show starring Avenatti opposite Anthony Scaramucci
.. There’s also been interest in his personal life; he filed for divorce against his wife Lisa Storie Avenatti in December 2017
.. Avenatti also defaulted on back taxes he agreed to pay the government.