Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for porn star Stormy Daniels who has become a constant critic of President Donald Trump on cable news, barred the media from his testimony in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Santa Ana, California, on Wednesday, citing attempts to “embarrass” him.
Avenatti, who settled with the Internal Revenue Service for $800,000 in unpaid payroll taxes, also asked Judge Catherine E. Bauer to seal the transcript of the court proceeding. Bauer granted his request to bar the media from the proceeding, but has not yet ruled on the motion to seal the transcript.
Avenatti told CNN: “I’m all for freedom of the press and open access. But everything has its limits. My personal financial dealings and that of an old law firm are of no relevance and, you know, were not going to be leveraged by other people who are trying to get famous and take advantage of the situation.”
Ironically, Avenatti has been on a crusade to expose what he says are the personal financial dealings between President Donald Trump and his client, as well as the privileged conversations between Trump and his former lawyer, Michael Cohen.
As the Los Angeles Times noted, Avenatti’s Newport Beach-based law firm, Eagan Avenatti, had “defaulted on millions of dollars in debt and fallen years behind in paying its payroll taxes.” He was subpoenaed to testify by a former employee, Jason Frank, who won a $10 million judgment against the firm that remains unpaid.
The Times noted the irony of Avenatti’s position “[a]fter months of demanding transparency from President Trump on his alleged affair with porn star Stormy Daniels.”
It added: “For weeks, he has been demanding that the president’s former lawyer Michael Cohen ‘come clean’ and release tapes and documents involving the payment of $130,000 to Daniels in return for her silence about an alleged one-night stand with Trump in 2006.”
Though CNN reported on Avenatti’s attempt to bar the media from his court proceeding, the lawyer appeared on Don Lemon’s show Wednesday evening without being asked about the case or his attempts to keep the media out.
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.