Avenatti: I have three more clients who were paid hush money related to Trump

Listen for the gasps and murmuring in the clip below when he mentions a pregnancy. Between this and the mysterious DVD that he once hinted at, this guy’s almost as much of a born showman as Trump is.

If he has three women waiting to come forward, why haven’t they come forward yet? It can’t be that they’re not ready to go public. They sought out a lawyer who’s on TV 24 hours a day, knowing full well that their names will be revealed once they sue to terminate their agreements. You don’t do that if you’re shy about the public spotlight.

Perhaps there’s an alternate explanation.

Hmmm! Notice that he made the remarks below at a “Resist” event, an overtly political context to be discussing private litigation. I’ll repeat something I wrote about his presidential ambitions last night:

The idea that Avenatti has the goods on Trump and is just methodically maneuvering him towards a big revelation/court defeat explains the great bulk of his appeal to lefties, I think. Yeah, he’s good on TV, and yeah, he tells them what they want to hear about how Trump is the devil, but his real pull lies in the image he’s created for himself as a rare adversary who doesn’t seem overmatched by Trump. It’s not that he’s a “fighter,” it’s that he seems to know what he’s doing. At a moment when Democrats are powerless in Congress, reduced to dismal floor speeches and whiny press releases, Avenatti seems to have a bit of real power over the White House in terms of what he knows and what he might be able to get Trump and/or Cohen to reveal.

Is he holding back the mystery clients to enhance his appeal to Dems? “I have in my possession the doomsday device that will end Trump’s presidency,” he’s hinting to primary voters. “Nominate me and I’ll push the button.” When your alternatives are as dismal as Kirsten Gillibrand and Cory Booker, maybe that’s an appealing pitch.

Pay attention to his phrasing, though. He doesn’t say that all three women were paid by Trump; he says that they were paid either by Michael Cohen on Trump’s behalf, by an entity created by Cohen, or by AMI, the parent company of the National Enquirer that paid Karen McDougal for the rights to her story. If it turns out that all three of Avenatti’s clients had deals with AMI rather than with Cohen, that would be interesting but would create fewer legal problems for Trump at first blush. (Maybe not on second blush, though: The more instances there are of AMI buying up the rights to ex-mistress’s stories and then not running them — catch and kill — the easier it’d be to prove that those payments were really unreported campaign contributions. Then the question would become whether Trump and Cohen coordinated with AMI on them.) He’s also coy about the timing, insisting only that the women were paid before the 2016 election. How long before, though? A week before Election Day or five years before? The timing matters to the campaign-finance inquiry, since hush money paid before Trump began thinking about running for president would obviously be money wasn’t paid for the purpose of influencing an election. Can’t have an illegal unreported campaign contribution when there’s no campaign.

He’s even coy in his phrasing about a pregnancy, saying that “at least one of [the] women claimed to be pregnant at the time” she made her hush-money deal. Pregnant by whom, though? He’s implying something but not clearly stating it. How come?

He’s also a bit coy when asked directly whether he’s alleging that all three women had relationships with Trump. “Last time I checked, they weren’t just handing out checks to anyone whether they had a relationship or not,” he answered. Well, right, but (a) that’s not a straightforward “yes” and (b) Rudy Giuliani has claimed, however implausibly, that a very rich man might indeed cut a six-figure check to a woman who’s falsely accused him of an affair just to make her go away. That said, the AP reports that Avenatti was later pressed by reporters about whether he has evidence that the three women had relationships with Trump, specifically. Yes, he said. So yeah, he’s alleging affairs. But beyond that, we’re left to wonder — possibly until January 20, 2021, when President Avenatti reveals all the sordid details in his inauguration speech.