First, frequent cable and broadcast news guest/Stormy Daniels attorney Michael Avenatti threatened on Monday to sue the Daily Caller for defamation. Now, on Wedenesday, a Hollywood Reporter column revealed how Avenatti called the writer an “asshole” for e-mailing him a list of tough questions and demanded their editor reach out to him.
Senior editor Eriq Gardner’s piece entitled “Is Stormy Daniels Getting Her Money’s Worth From Attorney Michael Avenatti?” raised some credible concerns about how effective Avenatti has been for the porn star in the court of legal (as opposed to public) opinion as she wages war against President Trump and personal attorney Michael Cohen.
Taking an indirect cue from MRC studies about Avenatti’s TV appearances (which can be read here, here, and here), Gardner noted that “Avenatti's media ubiquity is something few lawyers would recommend” and could be illustrated by a federal judge remarking early on in the process that this matter was “not the most important matter on the court's docket.”
Gardner correctly observed that Avenatti hasn’t been hurt by criticism of his Trumpian-like behavior, but rather doubled down on it. Avenatti told him that “you can't argue that the media strategy hasn't worked” as he’s been “crushing it on the PR front.” If by “crushing it” he meant auditioning for a role on CNN and MSNBC, he’s definitely achieved that.
Later, Gardner laid bare Avenatti’s Trumpian flair with this devastating excerpt about Avenatti’s reaction to a list of questions Gardner had for him (click “expand” to read more):
Then again, upon further thought, is Avenatti too thin-skinned to survive in the limelight past his Stormy Daniels moment?
As I was preparing this column, Avenatti learned that The Hollywood Reporter would be tallying his media appearances and reached out to an editor to express concern. Avenatti indicated he'd be open to questions so I sent him a half-dozen. Speculating that the result of my assessment of his work wouldn't exactly be flattering, he called me up and became somewhat menacing. At one point, he called me an "asshole" with an agenda and accused the lawyers I had spoken to of being jealous of his success. This conversation occurred before he threatened to sue a reporter at The Daily Caller over what he perceived to be "hit pieces."
Certainly, Avenatti has confronted attacks on his motives from those who might lean to the right and don't appreciate what he's up to.
When it came to some of the questions, Avenatti smugly replied to one by stating: “Please see the proposed settlement we made months ago. Did you read it?” What a tough guy!
Gardner also asked about “how the release of Cohen's bank information advanced his core argument that the disputed agreement should be invalidated,” but Avenatti’s immaturity again rose to the surface with his response being “I hope so” and “[w]e’ll see.”
Here’s more of Gardner’s legal takedown of Avenatti (click “expand” to see more):
There were certainly tough questions that I can understand rubbed him the wrong way. For instance, given that the American Bar Association and the State Bar of California, in their rules of professional conduct, caution attorneys against any extrajudicial statement that will have a substantial likelihood of prejudicing a proceeding, and not all judges appreciate lawyers discussing cases in the media, why do the rewards of being so out there outweigh the risks? "We have done nothing improper," he answered. "If speaking the truth subjects us to risk, so be it."
Maybe the question that really set him off, though, was: What legal developments in the Stormy Daniels case gave him confidence that the outcome would be favorable....In response, he accused me of not knowing my law — that Section 4 of the Federal Arbitration Act gave his client a right to a jury trial on the validity of the arbitration agreement. However, this is one of those chicken-or-egg, what-comes-first areas of law. While what he says is true, the judge might weigh whether there's any triable issues of fact before granting a trial, and in this case, Trump's side is attempting to downplay controversy, pointing to no dispute that she actually signed the hush deal, accepted payment, and spent 16 months without asserting any objection despite the absence of Trump's signature.
Maybe not necessarily something that's going to kill his hopes of a trial, but legal nuances like these have been drowned out by hyperventilating coverage of Avenatti's revelations and rhetoric.
[B]ut he seems to react rashly when challenged, which could turn into a weakness down the road.
As Nate Silver tweeted, "I'm sure I'm not the first person to observe this, but Avenatti seems quite Trumpian in both loving media attention and acting quite contemptuously toward the free press."