“What’s really not fair to the American people,” Michael Avenatti declares to Megyn Kelly, “is they don’t have an explanation for this $130,000.” Sure we do, Megyn Kelly replies — Stormy Daniels cashed the check and still has the money. Kelly got tough with Daniels’ lawyer on her Today segment, reminding Avenatti that an oral contract is just as binding as a written one regardless of whether the latter got every signature from every party, and cashing the check makes it pretty clear that Daniels has already received the benefits of it.
If she wants to break the contract, Kelly asks, why hasn’t she returned the money? Avenatti says his client is ready to do so at any time. So why hasn’t she? Avenatti insists that she wants an explanation as to how the money was generated, even though it didn’t seem to bother her when she cashed the check, as Kelly repeatedly points out:
Be sure to stick through the entire interview, as Kelly continually pokes holes in Avenatti’s argument. When Kelly asks why Daniels would care about whether the payment potentially violated campaign finance regulations, Avenatti declares, “This is a principled woman!” — to the immediate laughter of the audience.
Kelly is no more merciful:
KELLY: She’s so principled that, eleven days before the election, she had information about the possible next president having an extramarital affair with an adult film actress, and she shut up about it in exchange for just over a hundred grand.
AVENATTI: Yeah, and I think she’s provided an explanation as to why that is.
KELLY: Because she wanted the money!
AVENATTI: She wants — she wants the truth to be known to the American people.
KELLY: Then why did she take the money? Why didn’t she just talk eleven days before the election?
AVENATTI: You’d have to ask her that. I don’t have an explanation.
KELLY: Come on — she wanted the dough! And now she wants to keep the dough while violating the agreement.
That’s not exactly a compelling example of public relations, and it calls into question just how well Avenatti will do when it comes to litigating these claims, especially with that last exchange on tape. He’s handing the defense team a playbook, or at least letting Kelly write it on national television. It doesn’t get any better after the break either, when Kelly goes into prosecutorial mode over Daniels’ defamation claim against Michael Cohen. Both Avenatti and Daniels come off a lot worse than in other high-profile interviews, and the entire legal case comes off as a tawdry attempt at self-promotion more than a principled stand for the truth.
That doesn’t mean that the potential for campaign finance violations doesn’t exist. It does, as Kelly points out, in similar manner to John Edwards’ prosecution a few years ago. But that doesn’t make Daniels into a hero. Or Avenatti.