Affable but wary, arms mostly folded, Avenatti spoke like a man who feels he has a target on his back. Choosing words carefully between sips of orange juice and scans of his phone, he made a striking claim: that his media critics were acting at the behest of the Trump administration.

“There was a period when the other side didn’t perceive us to be a legitimate threat. Now they perceive us to be a legitimate threat – rightly so. The people that want to protect the president and that are very concerned about me and my client being threats are the ones that are targeting our personal lives.

“I think it’s disgusting and despicable. My past business dealings, my personal life, who I’m dating, the details of my divorce, other business matters that I’ve had – all that should be completely off-limits. It’s completely irrelevant to the case.”