Michael Avenatti Is the 1990s-Style Celebrity Lawyer of the Trump Age

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.

How to Escape From Roy Moore’s Evangelicalism

a new ritual has superseded Sunday worship and weeknight Bible studies: a profane devotional practice, with immense power to shape evangelicals’ beliefs. This “liturgy” is the nightly consumption of conservative cable news.

.. Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson aren’t just purveyors of distorted news, but high priests of a false religion.

.. Fox News is so formative is that it’s this repetitive, almost ritualistic thing that people do every night,” Ms. Schiess told me. “It forms in them particular fears and desires, an idea of America. This is convincing on a less than logical level, and the church is not communicating to them in that same way.”

.. “Their loyalties are much more strongly formed by conservative media than their churches,”

..  “We are, ultimately, liturgical animals because we are fundamentally desiring creatures,” he writes in his book “Desiring the Kingdom.” “We are what we love.”

.. Christians should stop trying to “make America great again,” abandon the ends-justify-the-means politics that leads them to defend predators and scoundrels like Mr. Moore, and focus instead on nurturing local Christian community. 

.. In a largely white worship setting, “when you have to prove yourself all the time, when your orthodoxy is always in question due to your blackness, you’re not safe to be vulnerable and honest,

.. Richard Rohr, a Franciscan ..  was surprised when his publisher told him that his books on Christian contemplation and the power of liturgy are most popular with young evangelical men

.. “So many of the millennial evangelicals I work with, they’re so disillusioned with their good parents’ inability to deal with racism, sexism and homophobia — the issues tearing our country apart,” he told me.

.. “As America deinstitutionalizes and moves away from religion, people — especially millennials — have lost something. Their community becomes primarily virtual, they’re seeing people through a screen and not flesh and blood, and there’s great data that this leads them to loneliness and depression,

‘When you put this guy in a cage and think you’re controlling him, things like this happen’

He likes to watch cable television news shows with other people, sometimes only through the phone.

.. After each answer, he made eye contact with a reporter, as if to say, “Gimme another!”

.. At both media availabilities, which had been billed as “sprays,” an official term for photo opportunities, Trump’s new chief of staff, John F. Kelly, was relegated to merely watching the spectacle.

.. “This is what General Kelly will learn very quickly, which is when you put this guy in a cage and think you’re controlling him, things like this happen,” said one Trump confidant, who requested anonymity to speak candidly.

.. “President Trump is a performance artist and he loves being on stage. . . . He was very much Trump unshackled and unfettered and reveling in this moment,” said O’Brien, author of the 2005 book “Trump Nation: The Art of Being the Donald.”