Attorney Michael Avenatti will not be representing porn star Stormy Daniels in the legal proceedings against Michael Cohen, the personal attorney for President Donald Trump.
Avenatti made the announcement after a court hearing Wednesday in which Cohen’s legal team updated the court on claims of attorney-client privilege related to data seized by FBI raids of Cohen’s home and office.
Daniels claims Cohen paid her $130,000 just before the 2016 election to keep quiet about her alleged affair with Trump. By representing Daniels in the case, Avenatti would have been allowed to review the items seized from Cohen.
Cohen’s attorney, Stephen Ryan, formally opposed Avenatti’s request for admission to the case. Ryan noted that Avenatti has made 170 media appearances in recent months.
Federal District Judge Kimba Wood told Avenatti that if he formally joined the court case, he would have to end his “publicity tour on TV and elsewhere” and stop asserting that Cohen is guilty of wrongdoing, actions that could “potentially deprive him of a fair trial,” according to The Associated Press.
“You’re entitled to publicity. I can’t stop you — unless you’re participating in a matter before me,” Wood told Avenatti.
Ryan accused Avenatti of committing “a premeditated drive-by shooting of my client’s rights” by publishing details of large corporate payments made in recent years to Cohen.
Ryan also accused Avenatti of an “intentional, malicious and prejudicial” release of Cohen’s bank records.
“Mr. Avenatti has published some information that appears to be from Mr. Cohen’s actual bank records, and Mr. Cohen has no reason to believe that Mr. Avenatti is in lawful possession of these records,” a previous court filing said.
Avenatti responded to Cohen, saying he and his client “did not do anything improper relating to the release of any information concerning Mr. Cohen.”
“I’ve never seen an attorney conduct himself in the way Mr. Avenatti has,” Ryan said in court. “It shakes me to my boots.”
"We had Nixon tapes and now we have Trump tapes."
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) May 30, 2018
Shortly after Avenatti withdrew his motion to appear in the case, he appeared on MSNBC, claiming some of the material seized in the Cohen raids include recordings of Cohen and an attorney who represented Daniels when the $130,000 payment was negotiated.
Avenatti accused Cohen’s lawyers of leaking the audio. Ryan denied leaking the audio, but said if his firm released those tapes, “it would be the biggest story in America.”
The attorneys representing Cohen said they have more than a dozen lawyers “working around the clock” to review files turned over to them by the government, but had only reviewed 1.3 million of more than 3.7 million files provided to them.
The judge has given Cohen’s team until June 15 to review the files and designate which ones qualify for claims of attorney-client privilege.
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