“Uncharacteristically bland” is how the New York Daily News describes Avenatti’s statement announcing the split. Those aren’t the words I’d choose.
Please see below statement relating to our representation of Stormy Daniels. pic.twitter.com/RgXd4DXf4X
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) March 12, 2019
Uncharacteristically terse, sure. But a “bland” statement would have been vaguer than this about who was dropping whom and why. Most of Stormy’s business with Avenatti was concluded, after all: Their defamation suit against Trump was tossed months ago and their original suit to have the hush-money contract voided was dismissed last week on grounds that Trump and Cohen had promised not to enforce the penalties it sought to impose on Daniels if she discussed their affair publicly — a victory of sorts, as Daniels herself recognized.
Avenatti could have put out a triumphal statement claiming they were parting ways now that their primary goal had been accomplished, with the president’s lies exposed and his former lawyer headed to prison for campaign-finance violations related to the hush-money deal. A statement like that might have had some kind things to say about Daniels too, about how she’d taken on the most powerful man in the world and won because she refuses to be silenced or whatever.
But that’s not the statement Avenatti put out, is it?
He made it very clear that he dumped Stormy, not vice versa, and not because they no longer had any legal business together. He discovered something that forced his hand, or so he says, and of course you can’t know about it due to attorney-client confidentiality. Lest there was any ambiguity about which party rejected the other, he clarified for CNBC: “I made the decision to terminate the representation.” How often does a celebrity lawyer cut loose a celebrity client who’s in on-again-off-again litigation with the president of the United States?
This isn’t the first time that Avenatti has generated bad press for Stormy. Remember that bizarre episode last fall in which Daniels accused him of various forms of chicanery, only to have Avenatti politely hype an embarrassing story about her the next day? (Against all odds, they reconciled afterward.) An obvious possibility arises in light of last fall’s unpleasantness: Is Stormy about to sue Avenatti, possibly for malpractice?
She already has a new lawyer, you know.
I have retained Clark Brewster as my personal lawyer and have asked him and his firm to review all legal matters involving me. Upon completion of Mr. Brewster's review and further consultation with me, I anticipate Mr. Brewster will serve as my primary counsel on all legal issues
— Stormy Daniels (@StormyDaniels) March 12, 2019
Maybe Avenatti was the one who ended their relationship only in the sense that Daniels first made it clear that she was thinking of suing him, whereupon he pulled the plug. Today’s statement might be his way of preparing the PR battlespace, implying that she did something wrong to make his representation untenable knowing full well that she’s about to accuse him of wrongdoing.
Or maybe the truth is more pedestrian: Stormy’s old-ish news at this point and Avenatti is on to his next sensational case, the R. Kelly clusterfark. If his chief form of “payment” in representing Daniels was media exposure rather than money, her ability to “pay” had obviously significantly diminished over the past year. He needs to prioritizenow , starting with his own mounting legal troubles in bankruptcy court.
Exit question: Isn’t Stormy still on the hook for nearly $300,000 in Trump’s attorneys’ fees? She was hit with that judgment as a result of the defamation suit she filed against Trump — which, she claimed last fall, she never authorized. Avenatti took it upon himself to file that in her name, or so she alleged. Maaaaaaybe we’re about to see Daniels versus Avenatti in court over who should really be responsible for those attorneys’ fees.
Update: Well then.
Asked whether Avenatti’s apparent legal troubles and recent bankruptcy played a role in his client breakup with Daniels, Brewster said, “I’ll simply say this. In addition to reviewing the legal matters that are pending, we would expect a full accounting and disclosure with regard to the representation of Stormy. That’s another issue we’ll deal with. I’m not, at this point in time, able or informed sufficiently to form opinions on that.”