Today's legal mystery: Why is this man still talking about his own case?

The first rule any good lawyer will tell a client facing federal charges is: shut the hell up and let me do the talking. But what if the client is a lawyer too — and not just any lawyer, but one addicted to the limelight? Whoever’s representing Michael Avenatti has to be buying Xanax by the boatload, as the former creepy porn lawyer keeps talking and talking and talking.  And not just on CBS, but also overnight on social media too.

Let’s start with CBS, which John previewed yesterday evening. Although Avenatti does admit that he’s “nervous” and “scared” to be facing federal charges, neither of those states prevent him from flapping his gums in public and committing himself to specific positions, potentially giving prosecutors more ammunition in court. After telling Jericka Duncan that he’s “not gonna get into the specifics” of his case, Avenatti jumps in with both feet anyway:

For instance, here’s Avenatti previewing his defense on the Nike shakedown:

“The complaint does suggest that you asked for up to $20 million – 1.5 for your client – and at least $20 million. And that you requested you be retained to do an internal investigation. And that if not you and they hired someone else you stand to make more money,” Duncan said.

“Yeah, I — I — I — not gonna get into the specifics of this,” Avenatti said. “But what I will say is the way this has been framed is not accurate. It’s just not accurate. And in fact, from the very first moment that we had any meeting with Nike, we made it clear that under no circumstances would we participate in anything that did not require full disclosure to investigators and the federal government.”

Really? Then why would Avenatti have pitched himself as an “internal investigator,” and why would Nike be expected to fork over $20 million if it was going to go public anyway? Prosecutors in the Southern District of New York allegedly have Avenatti on tape threatening to go public if Nike “capped at 3 or 5 or 7 million dollars” for his services. “A few million dollars doesn’t move the needle for me,” SDNY claims they have Avenatti saying in the recording made last week.

The next day, Avenatti allegedly demanded a $12 million dollar retainer for no work whatsoever:

On March 21, 2019, at the direction of law enforcement, representatives of Nike met again with AVENATTI and CC-1. During the meeting, AVENATTI reiterated his demand for a $1.5 million payment for his client and, with respect to his demand to be retained for an internal investigation, AVENATTI stated, in substance and in part, that he and CC-1 would require a $12 million retainer to be paid immediately and to be “deemed earned when paid,” with a minimum guarantee of $15 million in billings and a maximum fee of $25 million, “unless the scope changes.” When informed by an outside attorney for Nike (“Attorney-1”) that Attorney-1 has never received a $12 million retainer from Nike and never done an investigation for Nike “that breaks $10 million,” AVENATTI responded, in substance and in part, by asking whether Attorney-1 has ever “held the balls of the client in your hand where you could take five to six billion dollars market cap off of them?”

If that is an accurate rendering of the recording, there isn’t a jury in the world that will buy Avenatti’s latest spin that going public was always in the cards. And now that prosecutors have Avenatti on tape again making this new claim, they have lots of time to build evidence and testimony to rebut it.

What about the other charge of embezzlement? Well, Avenatti had something to say about that too:

“The client who is accusing me of embezzlement is currently on felony probation in California,” Avenatti said. “You know what he was convicted of? Multiple accounts of obtaining money under false pretenses. It turns out — and I didn’t know this at the time — that he has an extensive criminal background and rap sheet associated with his conduct. So again, nowhere does that appear in the complaint. So there’s gonna be a lot of evidence. There’s gonna be a lot of facts that have come — going to come to light.”

Avenatti should be careful with that line of attack; he has a few people accusing him of using false pretenses to get money, too. The rest of this falls into Renault Award territory. Are we to believe that an attorney of Avenatti’s self-professed excellence never checked out his client’s rap sheet when acting in his defense? And how surprised should we be that an attorney represented a client who might have broken the law? Was Avenatti shocked, shocked to discover that?

Avenatti also returned to Twitter last night, trying to salvage the position that he’s now a crusader against corruption in college sports:

This might just be a harmless exercise of blowing off steam. However, if Avenatti really had contact with these schools, he might just have given prosecutors new leads to look for more potential shakedown efforts, too. If the SDNY office didn’t have any interest in talking with UNLV, Duke, and the NCAA about Avenatti, you can bet they’re making phone calls this morning.

All of this should remind the rest of us that brevity is the soul of wit when charged with crimes, and that even more so that silence is golden. When in public, proclaim your innocence and then introduce your legal representative. It’s remarkable that in the end, Donald Trump turned out to be a lot smarter in dealing with federal prosecutors than the man who bragged about taking Trump down.