Even in President Donald Trump’s most sanguine moments, I don’t think he imagined the past few days going like they have.
There was the Mueller report, which showed — at least according to Attorney General William Barr’s synopsis — that there was no collusion between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign. The special counsel left the decision on obstruction of justice to the Department of Justice; Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein agreed charges weren’t called for.
So then there was the hand-wringing from the media on how they got everything so wrong. Some tried to put a good spin on things. Others reported it straight: It was a massive victory for the president.
And then, appearing on stage right as if the moment couldn’t pass without him somehow being involved, there was the court jester of the whole Trump investigation, Michael Avenatti.
“Michael Avenatti, the lawyer best known for representing the pornographic film star Stormy Daniels in her lawsuits against President Trump, arrived in New York on Monday for a negotiating session with Nike executives that he believed could net him millions of dollars,” The New York Times reported Monday.
“Armed with sensitive information, Mr. Avenatti approached the meeting as though he had the upper hand. He left in the custody of F.B.I. agents.
“Federal prosecutors in Manhattan filed charges accusing him of trying to extort millions of dollars from the apparel giant in exchange for evidence he said he had of misconduct by company employees in the recruitment of college basketball players.”
He was also charged by prosecutors in California with bank and wire fraud in a separate case.
Whoops. This led to possibly the best tweet of the day, courtesy of Ben Shapiro:
We are living in Donald Trump’s fever dream https://t.co/X69v0iilY7
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) March 25, 2019
Oh, but wait, Ben. It gets better.
According to The Washington Free Beacon, Federal Election Commission filings from Avenatti’s political action committee — purportedly set up to help liberal candidates — seem to show it was little more than a slush fund for his personal use.
“Avenatti launched his PAC, the Fight PAC, last summer as he was contemplating a presidential run to help Democratic candidates with ‘the size and presence to really fight back and advocate for a position of strength as opposed to weakness,'” The Free Beacon reported.
“From the committee’s launch in late August 2018 to Dec. 31, 2018, Avenatti’s PAC hauled in $113,000 in total contributions. During this time, the Fight PAC reported $101,000 worth of operating expenditures — much of which were reimbursements for Avenatti’s jet-setting ways and stays at lavish hotels.”
For instance, FEC filings show that in October alone, the PAC covered $31,776.78 of his expenses “on the likes of food, beverage, lodging, and transportation,” The Free Beacon reported. The PAC was also fond of spending significant chunks of money on five-star hotels in New York City, Washington and Puerto Rico, the report said.
And we don’t even know what kind of damage he’s done in 2019 since the filings aren’t due until April 20.
We do know how much money was spent on candidates, however: $0.
Remember, it wasn’t so long ago that Avenatti was being treated as a credible 2020 Democrat presidential contender. He certainly behaved like it, making the usual pilgrimage to the state where the first major contest would be held.
“I’m here to listen to the great people of Iowa, explore the fair and see whether it makes sense to run for the presidency or not,” Avenatti said during a visit to the Iowa State Fair in August. “I’m serious about considering it. I haven’t made a decision as to what I’m going to do. I’ll make a decision in the coming weeks. Maybe a bit longer than that.”
At last one comment from that time isn’t aging well.
“You look at the field of Democrats right now, and Avenatti’s the one who stands out. He’s the one who’s not a politician,” Philip Rucker, The Washington Post’s White House bureau chief, said during an appearance on MSNBC after Avenatti’s Iowa visit.
“If he gives the base what they’re looking for and shows he can go toe-to-toe with Trump, he’d have a chance,” Rucker said.
Instead, he’s going to be going toe-to-toe with prosecutors to try to stay out of prison.
But at least Avenatti will be able to look back on the time when he could fire off sick burns like this:
Bif: If I were you, the last thing I would be doing is referencing other people getting out of federal prison. Because after you are indicted, you will likely be passing them on your way in. BTW, they don’t have silver spoons or gold toilets in the joint. Buckle up Buttercup. https://t.co/jnDq4weHZh
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) October 9, 2018
If they don’t have silver spoons or gold toilets in the joint, perhaps Avenatti can get the PAC to pay for them?
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