Attorney Michael Avenatti, one of President Donald Trump’s most determined antagonists and the former lawyer for porn star Stormy Daniels, has reportedly been charged by federal prosecutors with extortion.
BREAKING: Attorney Michael Avenatti criminally charged with four counts of extortion and related conspiracy counts.
Press conference at 2:30 pm. pic.twitter.com/dXUXqITQMZ
— Adam Klasfeld (@KlasfeldReports) March 25, 2019
Prosecutors in the Southern District of New York reportedly believe that Avenatti threatened the Nike footwear company, saying he could inflict harm on the company’s reputation unless he was paid $20 million.
NEW: SDNY is charging Michael Avenatti for “attempting to extract more than $20M in payments from a publicly traded company by threatening to use his ability to garner publicity to inflict substantial financial & reputational harm on the company if his demands were not met.”
— erica orden (@eorden) March 25, 2019
Avenatti has repeatedly promised that Trump would not complete his first term in office. He once toyed with running for president against Trump himself, saying he would “kick his ass.”
The SDNY is the same jurisdiction that convicted former Trump fixer Michael Cohen, who handled a payment to Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Cohen has testified in court and before Congress that Trump directed him to violate federal campaign finance laws, but there is no clear indication that the payment was solely for campaign purposes.
It is also not illegal for candidates to spend their own money on campaigns, though such payments have to be reported to the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
Avenatti and Daniels have since parted ways.
There are more Avenatti charges coming:
Federal prosecutors in LA will also announce charges of wire fraud and bank fraud against Avenatti at 2p ET. These charges are separate from the charges in SDNY that were announced at roughly the same time.
— Shimon Prokupecz (@ShimonPro) March 25, 2019
Avenatti had been set to announce claims of misconduct by Nike on Tuesday:
Tmrw at 11 am ET, we will be holding a press conference to disclose a major high school/college basketball scandal perpetrated by @Nike that we have uncovered. This criminal conduct reaches the highest levels of Nike and involves some of the biggest names in college basketball.
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) March 25, 2019
More details continue to emerge:
Amazing. Avenatti, speaking directly with Nike’s lawyers, allegedly threatened to extort the company. The lawyers immediately called up the Justice Department and set up a recorded sting of Avenatti reiterating his allegedly criminal demands pic.twitter.com/6PkOUjsH7F
— Lachlan Markay (@lachlan) March 25, 2019
Avenatti was reportedly arrested in New York, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Stormy Daniels — whose real name is Stephanie Clifford — also weighed in:
My statement regarding my former attorney Mr. Avenatti.. pic.twitter.com/9aKYCPNN6y
— Stormy Daniels (@StormyDaniels) March 25, 2019
Update (2:13 p.m. EDT): The charges from Los Angeles have been announced.
BREAKING NEWS / AVENATTI CHARGED AGAIN: He is charged out of Los Angeles with embezzling a client’s money in order to pay his own expenses and debts and also defrauded a bank by using phony tax returns to obtain millions of dollars in loans. @anblanx reports. https://t.co/TItFHS399N
— Tom Winter (@Tom_Winter) March 25, 2019
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.
This article has been updated.