Television lawyer Michael Avenatti was arrested Wednesday following an alleged domestic violence dispute, law enforcement confirmed Wednesday evening.
TMZ says of the woman involved in the alleged incident, “We’re told her face was ‘swollen and bruised.’ Our sources say the alleged incident occurred Tuesday, but there was a confrontation Wednesday between the two at an exclusive apartment building in the Century City area of L.A.”
Update: Lisa Storie-Avenatti’s attorney issued a statement denying Michael Avenatti’s estranged wife made the allegation, calling TMZ’s report inaccurate. “My client and I have reviewed the TMZ article alleging that my client, Lisa Storie-Avenatti, has been injured and that Michael Avenatti has been arrested as a result of some incident that occurred between them. This article is not true as it pertains to my client,” the lawyer told BuzzFeed News. “Ms. Storie-Avenatti was not subject to any such incident on Tuesday night. Further, she was not at Mr. Avenatti’s apartment on the date that this alleged incident occurred. My client states that there has never been domestic violence in her relationship with Michael and that she has never known Michael to be physically violent toward anyone.”
The woman involved in the alleged physical altercation reportedly scrambled from the apartment where the incident occurred and was spotted on the sidewalk holding her hands over her eyes while shouting into her cell phone. “I can’t believe you did this to me,” she said, according to TMZ.
Five minutes later, TMZ continues, Avenatti arrived at the apartment complex and yelled repeatedly, “She hit me first,” then, “This is bullshit, this is fucking bullshit.” The alleged melee occurred after the woman attempted to pick up her belongings and called 911 after tempers ran hot.
Los Angeles authorities confirmed Avenatti is currently in police custody.
Avenatti rose to national prominence as the legal representative of Daniels, who has alleged she had intercourse with President Donald Trump years before entering the Oval Office.
Avenatti is one of a handful of potential 2020 Democrat hopefuls crisscrossing the county in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election and was active during the midterm election. To some Democrats, he represents the nonpolitician appeal that in part led President Trump to victory over more experienced politicians in 2016. Others see someone whose brash confidence could be the ultimate weapon against the president in 2020.
“The people who were there appreciated him pushing back on Donald Trump,” said Jaime Harrison, a former South Carolina Democratic Party chairman who visited with Avenatti during a trip to Florence. “I give Avenatti an A-plus in terms of appeal because there’s a section of the Democratic Party that’s going to want that.”
While Avenatti is attempting to burnish his credentials as a potential 2020 heavyweight, the attorney is facing mounting legal entanglements, including a possible criminal investigation by the Justice Department. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has asked for a criminal investigation into whether Julie Swetnick and Avenatti conspired to provide false statements to Congress and obstructed a congressional investigation during the confirmation process for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Grassley wrote in a letter to the Justice Department that Swetnick and Avenatti made serious allegations that required significant resources to investigate. However, Grassley says information from media interviews and elsewhere indicates their statements “likely contained materially false claims.”
“I don’t take lightly making a referral of this nature, but ignoring this behavior will just invite more of it in the future,” Grassley said in a statement.
Avenatti released a sworn statement in which Swetnick said she witnessed Kavanaugh “consistently engage in excessive drinking and inappropriate contact of a sexual nature with women in the early 1980s.” Kavanaugh denied the allegations and an FBI background check cleared him of any wrongdoing.
Further, Avenatti was ordered last month to pay $4.85 million to an attorney who worked at his former law firm, a California judge ruled. The Los Angeles judge ordered the payout the same day a separate ruling came down evicting Eagan Avenatti LLC from its office space in Southern California after four months of unpaid rent.
In the case over back pay, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Dennis Landin ruled that Avenatti personally guaranteed a settlement with attorney Jason Frank, who said Eagan Avenatti misstated its profits and that he was owed millions of dollars.
Update #2: TMZ reports the LAPD obtained an “emergency protective order,” which prohibits Avenatti from being in the vicinity of the alleged victim. The television lawyer will be released on $50,000 bail, says the outlet.
Update #3: Avenatti denied the allegations in a statement to BuzzFeed News, saying: “I wish to thank the hard working men and woman of the LAPD for their professionalism they were only doing their jobs in light of the completely bogus allegations against me. I have never been physically abusive in my life nor was I last night. Any accusations to the contrary are fabricated and meant to do harm to my reputation. I look forward to being fully exonerated.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.