Avenatti Says Talks With Trump's Fixer Cohen Have Broken Off
(Bloomberg) -- Michael Avenatti, whose courtroom clashes spawned an array of legal woes for U.S. President Donald Trump this year, said talks with Michael Cohen’s lawyers have broken off.
Avenatti is representing adult-film actress Stormy Daniels in a lawsuit against Trump and Cohen over a $130,000 hush agreement she signed before the 2016 election. Last month Avenatti said he’d be open to settling with Cohen and representing him in a joint fight against Trump. Not any more.
"We’ve been in communication with his lawyers, but those communications have broke off," Avenatti said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. "It’s become clear to me that Michael Cohen isn’t prepared to do the right thing."
Cohen, who’s being investigated by federal prosecutors in Manhattan, can’t "continue to ride the fence,” Avenatti said. Cohen should disclose what he knows about the payment to Daniels, who says she was paid to not discuss a sexual encounter she had with Trump in 2006, the California lawyer said.
Avenatti said he also wants Cohen to disclose where the money for the hush payment came from and if anyone else was paid to keep quiet. At least three other women also received non-disclosure payments ahead of the 2016 election, Avenatti said. He said it’s up to the women to decide whether to come forward with the allegations publicly, and so far they haven’t.
Avenatti noted that there have been no denials from Cohen’s lawyer Lanny Davis, Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, or Trump himself since he first made the claim about the three women on July 27. Neither Davis nor Giuliani returned a call for comment.
Cohen has a lot of damaging information on Trump, Avenatti said, without disclosing how he knows that.
“He’s going to flip on the president,” Avenatti said.
The lawyer also said he disagrees with the theory among legal scholars that Trump can’t be indicted because he’s in office.
“I believe that you should be able to indict a sitting president," Avenatti said. "If it was up to me, which it’s not, I would indict the president and I would make the Supreme Court ultimately throw it out."
The disclosure of Clifford’s hush payment, arranged by Cohen through a company he set up to facilitate the transaction, raised Avenatti’s profile. Avenatti has released additional details about the Cohen entity, including millions of dollars in payments from companies including AT&T Inc. and Novartis AG.
The payments have come under scrutiny amid an ongoing criminal probe into Cohen following an April raid by the FBI on the lawyer’s home, office and hotel room. Cohen hasn’t been charged with wrongdoing.
Giuliani said 183 audio recordings were seized in the raid, and Avenatti has called for publication of the files. Trump waived privilege over a handful of the recordings, including one recording in which Trump is heard advising Cohen to pay cash for another hush agreement. Cohen can be heard demurring.
Avenatti has also found himself embroiled in former Playboy model Shera Bechard’s lawsuit against GOP fundraiser Elliott Broidy over a $1.6 million hush agreement she signed to stay silent about her affair and pregnancy with the married Republican. Bechard accused Avenatti of undermining the nondisclosure agreement by revealing its details on Twitter.
When the deal was struck last year, Bechard was being represented by Keith Davidson, the same lawyer who represented Clifford when she struck her hush agreement with Trump in 2016. Broidy and Trump were both represented by Cohen.
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