Stormy Daniels accuses Avenatti of stealing from her but another witness steals the show

(AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

This week Michael Avenatti is on trial for allegedly stealing $300,000 from his former client Stormy Daniels. Prosecutors claim Avenatti forged Daniels’ signature in order to take money paid to her by a book publisher and place it in his own accounts. Today, Daniels took the stand and testified Avenatti had stolen from her.

“He stole from me and lied to me,” Ms. Daniels testified after taking the stand shortly after 11 a.m. Mr. Avenatti, who is serving as his own lawyer in the trial, is expected to question Ms. Daniels himself during cross-examination…

…Ms. Daniels testified, Mr. Avenatti said that he would represent her for a payment of $100. He added that he would set up a legal-defense fund to raise more money, she said, and take a share of any money awarded as a result of the lawsuit against Mr. Trump.

“When it came to a book deal or a movie or a documentary, we would discuss it later,” Ms. Daniels testified. She said that she paid Mr. Avenatti the $100 he had asked for in cash. Mr. Avenatti, she added, used that money to pay for lunch.

There could be some fireworks today or tomorrow as Avenatti himself cross-examines Daniels. But Rolling Stone reports that the most compelling witness in the trial so far was Avenatti’s former attorney Sean Macias. Macias is the person who introduced Daniels to Avenatti. He told a story about Avenatti coming to him in desperate need for money shortly before the (alleged) theft was uncovered.

Macias is the one who introduced Daniels and Avenatti, after Daniels came to him saying she wanted to get out of a non-disclosure agreement she’d signed with Former President Donald Trump covering up a sexual interaction she’d had with him. But she didn’t have money to hire representation. He claimed he connected her with Avenatti, who, during a meeting with both of them, said they’d go big with a press push, an idea Daniels loved…

According to Macias, a few months later, Avenatti was moping and acting “a little needy” at a Labor Day weekend conference they both attended in Las Vegas. “He was slumped over like someone stole his ball,” Macias said. At a party hosted by the now-defunct law firm Girardi and Keese (founded by Tom Girardi, embattled ex-husband of a Real Housewife of Beverly Hills), Macias said Avenatti told him, “She’s going nuts.”

The person going nuts was Stormy Daniels and the reason she was upset was because she hadn’t yet received any of the $800,000 book advance she’d been promised. And a couple of days later, Avenatti showed up at Macias’ office asking for a big favor.

The Tuesday after Labor Day, 2018, Macias said Avenatti showed up in his office asking for $250,000 in a hurry because he was going to get evicted from his workspace and needed to pay his law firm employees, too. “He said he was jammed up and needed help,” Macias said. Macias said he was “shocked” that this high-profile lawyer who was making TV appearances at the time was in financial trouble. “I said the F word with a ‘no’ at the end,” Macias said. He wouldn’t give Avenatti the money, but said Avenatti begged him not to leave him hanging. “He said, ‘Come on, player, you gotta help me out,’” Macias testified.

When Macias’ wouldn’t give him the money, Avenatti instead called a “prospective lender” that he was being forced out of his building because the owners were Republicans. The lender agreed to loan him the money but then the whole thing fell through when Avenatti said he needed the money by the next morning. Macias testified that Avenatti was “really upset” and crying when he told him the loan had fallen through. But Macias was able to call another friend, attorney Mark Geragos, and get Avenatti a loan.

Under cross examination, Avenatti pressed Macias to say he’d come to get a loan for his presidential campaign. But ultimately Macias refuted that claim on the stand. So you have a witness saying Avenatti was desperate for $250,000 at the same moment prosecutors say he took $300,000 of Stormy Daniels book advance for himself. It sounds pretty damning to me. I guess we’ll see what the jury thinks about it sometime next week.