Why Michael Avenatti might be compelled to reveal his source even if it’s against the public interest

After weeks of applying legal pressure to Donald Trump and his attorney Michael Cohen, Michael Avenatti might soon see the tables turned. Stormy Daniels’ lawyer faces the possibility of a subpoena demanding that he name the source for a report he released earlier this month on potentially corrupt payments to Cohen.

Avenatti does not appear to have a legal basis to maintain the confidentiality of his source, yet the public interest may well be served by allowing him to remain silent.

On Wednesday, the New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow published a story about an unnamed law enforcement official who reportedly leaked the information contained in Avenatti’s report. The report detailed several deposits to the bank account of Essential Consultants LLC, the same shell company Cohen used to make a $130,000 “hush money” payment on Trump’s behalf to Daniels.

The deposits came from companies including AT&T, pharmaceutical giant Novartis, and the U.S. investment arm of Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, and appear to indicate that Cohen was selling access to his putative clients. All of this may also constitute evidence of other wrongdoing.