Michael Avenatti is using Trump tactics to battle Trump, a strategy that comes with risks

“Nothing he has been doing in the last four to six weeks with his multiple television appearances advances the interests of his client in the California action,” said Stephen Gillers, a New York University law professor who specializes in ethics. “He’s catapulted himself to be the story. There are dangers when a lawyer becomes so publicly vocal.”

Gillers described Avenatti’s media presence as highly unusual for an American lawyer, not only because of his frequent television appearances but also because his arguments are more sweeping than his client’s narrow complaint. “I really cannot think of an equivalent,” he said.

.. Last week, Cohen said that because Avenatti published his private banking transactions, he should not be permitted to represent Daniels in a federal court in New York. Daniels is seeking to intervene in the case

.. “He comes across as consistent and credible and single-minded in his concern for his client’s interest.”

.. Mark Penn, a former adviser to President Bill Clinton, last week asked in the Hill publication whether Avenatti is truly representing his client as a lawyer or “just using her as cover to wage a political operation.” Fox News host Laura Ingraham asked the same question on her show, all but accusing Avenatti of acting as a Democratic operative.

.. Perhaps his most un­or­tho­dox move involved the decision to publicize the details of Cohen’s banking transactions. Under the old rules of Washington, a lawyer might have leaked that sensitive information to a trusted journalist who would vet it and publish it, perhaps in a way that could not be traced to the lawyer.

But this is the Trump era. Avenatti turned to Twitter.

.. Cohen’s lawyers noted in their court filing, the dossier contained mistakes, including several transactions by other Michael Cohens. That meant Avenatti had publicized details about the banking histories of people who had nothing to do with Daniels.

.. Not unlike Trump, Avenatti is loath to apologize.

.. He has declined to identify the source of his information. The Treasury Department inspector general is investigating whether the confidential Suspicious Activity Reports that banks submit to the federal government were leaked.

.. Unlike journalists, he said, lawyers may not use or disclose documents that they know were illegally obtained even if the lawyer does nothing unlawful to get them.

.. While in college and later in law school, Avenatti spent five years working for a political consulting firm run by Rahm Emanuel

.. After law school, Avenatti worked for lawyer Daniel Petrocelli, who had represented the family of victim Ron Goldman in the O.J. Simpson case

Michael Avenatti, the adrenaline-fueled lawyer taking on President Trump

That setback in 2012 now serves as a parable of resilience in the legend Avenatti has been crafting about himself — both with a string of multimillion-dollar jury verdicts and with his brash, almost nonstop cable news appearances.

.. It is another big bet for an attorney with an enormous appetite for risk whose roster of courthouse adversaries includes mega-corporations, as well as celebrities, such as Paris Hilton and Jim Carrey.

“He is an adrenaline junkie,” says Jonathan Turley, who taught Avenatti at George Washington University’s law school and has stayed in touch since his former student earned his law degree. “I think he needs that adrenaline rush. He lives his life aggressively. In both litigation and in life he shows a certain aggressive style.”

.. The next he’s delving into entrepreneurial pursuits, such as buying Tully’s, a struggling Seattle coffee-shop chain, or blasting around a track while competing as a driver in a professional racecar circuit, sometimes hitting speeds of up to 195 MPH. The main photograph on his website depicts him in a race suit, rather than a business suit.

.. “Initially, I was very skeptical about getting involved because I, much like many Americans, had preconceived notions about Stormy Daniels and her motivations and what she is all about,” Avenatti says.

It took him only about 20 minutes to decide that she was credible, he says, although he won’t reveal what led him to that conclusion.

.. Avenatti’s foil in the Daniels melodrama has been Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, as much as the president.

.. Avenatti has been daring Cohen to appear on television with him to discuss the case. He recently used an enlarged photograph of Cohen as a propduring a contentious appearance on CNN with Cohen’s attorney, David Schwartz.

..  But Avenatti is arguing a broader case about the integrity of the president and his legal team — and drawing from a well-honed playbook of using media appearances as an integral part of his strategy.

.. Brian Panish, a prominent plaintiffs attorney who has worked on cases with Avenatti, compares his former colleague to William Ginsburg, Monica Lewinsky’s attorney famous for appearing on all the Sunday talk shows on the same day during President Clinton’s White House-intern sex scandal. It spawned the term “the full Ginsburg.”

.. his father was unexpectedly laid off, and the son went to work to earn tuition money by doing opposition political research on Republicans and Democrats for a firm owned by Rahm Emanuel

.. His cases included a $10 million defamation lawsuit, which ended in a confidential settlement, that he filed on behalf of a socialite client against Paris Hilton. He was also on the team of lawyers who sued Trump and the producer of “The Apprentice” on behalf a man who said they stole his idea for the hit show. The case ended in a settlement.

.. Avenatti says he’s been lead counsel on $1 billion worth of verdicts and settlements. The biggest, by far, came last year when he won a $454 million jury verdict in a case against Kimberly-Clark and Halyard Health related to claims that the companies knowingly sold defective surgical gowns that were not impermeable to Ebola and HIV, despite representations that they were.

.. Avenatti has also been engaged in a heated financial dispute with a former law partner who’d sued saying he was owed millions in unpaid fees. At a court hearing , a lawyer for one side characterized the level of acrimony as “unbelievable.” But the partners have now settled the case and are back on speaking terms, and Avenatti — employing a few four-letter words, as he is wont to do — says the portrayal of the squabble has been “overblown.”


Trump’s Stormy History: The Seven-Year Battle Between the President and the Porn Star

Since 2011, Stormy Daniels and Trump lawyer Michael Cohen have battled over her allegations of an affair, a standoff that has now reached the White House

The turning point for Ms. Clifford—when she began to seriously consider speaking out—was a statement Mr. Cohen provided to news media on Feb. 13 acknowledging the deal with Ms. Clifford, people familiar with the matter said.

Just because something isn’t true doesn’t mean that it can’t cause you harm or damage,” Mr. Cohen said.

Ms. Clifford viewed his comment as Mr. Cohen calling her a liar, and she questioned why Mr. Cohen could speak freely while she had to remain silent, according to people familiar with the matter.

 .. In the call soon after, Mr. Davidson told Mr. Cohen that Ms. Clifford believed he had breached the agreement. Mr. Cohen explained the FEC had sought his response to a complaint about the payment, according to people familiar with the call.

.. In late February, Ms. Clifford decided she wanted to blow up the deal and that Mr. Davidson wasn’t the man for a full-on confrontation, people familiar with the matter said.

She hired Mr. Avenatti, an aggressive, media-friendly Los Angeles lawyer who last year won a $454 million verdict in a lawsuit alleging fraud against Kimberly-Clark Corp. and its spinoff Halyard Health Inc.

.. Ms. Clifford, who has been drawing big crowds lately at strip clubs around the country, recently established a crowdfunding site to finance her legal battle. As of Tuesday morning, it had raised more than $268,000.