Stormy Daniels, a pornographic actress who was paid to keep quiet about her alleged affair with former President Donald Trump, testified against her former lawyer Michael Avenatti before he was cross-examined in a New York federal court on Thursday.
Avenatti told Judge Jesse Furman that he intended to spend six hours questioning Daniels, to which the judge replied, “We’ll see,” according to law and crime. Avenatti was only given a short time before Fuhrman adjourned for a day, but he is expected to resume interrogation on Friday.
Avenatti defends himself against allegations that he scammed Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, out of $300,000 of the money she received from her book deal.
On Tuesday, he announced that he had fired his lawyers due to a “slack” in trial strategy discussions, which gave him the opportunity to question his former ally under oath on the podium. Until they fell out, the pair have been a thorn in Trump’s side during his presidency.
Under direct examination, Daniels identified Avenatti in a Manhattan courtroom and told jurors, “I hired a new lawyer because he stole money from me and lied to me,” Reuters reported.
Daniels received $800,000 from St. Martin’s Press as an advance for his 2018 memoir Full Disclosure. She said that Avenatti told her that the publisher was delaying some payments, when in fact he forged a document instructing the publisher to send funds to a bank account controlled by Avenatti. He allegedly used $300,000 for personal expenses, including renting a Ferrari.
Daniels fired Avenatti in early 2019, and prosecutors filed charges months later.
Avenatti stated that he was “completely innocent”. He says he earned the money he took from his client, though he doesn’t appear to have told her frankly where the money went.
On Thursday, Daniels revealed she didn’t think she could afford a lawyer at the start of her legal troubles with Trump. When questioned by Avenatti, she confirmed that they had agreed to bring in her legal defense fund, since Avenatti would not work for free.
Avenatti also asked several seemingly unrelated questions about her supernatural TV show Spooky Kids. Law and crime reporter Adam Klasfeld.
For a time, Avenatti became a regular cable news commentator after finding himself in the national spotlight as an attorney for Daniels, representing her when she was arrested at an Ohio strip club, as well as in her many lawsuits against Trump. .
Her case against him is just one of several that Avenatti has fought in recent years; he was also charged by federal prosecutors with defrauding various customers and attempting to extort millions from Nike. A California lawyer was disbarred in 2020 after two decades of legal practice.
Daniels received $130,000 from former Trump aide lawyer Michael Cohen in the months leading up to the 2016 presidential election for keeping quiet about an affair she said they had. (Trump denies the claim.) Cohen later pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance laws by making a payment and serving time in prison, but not before publicly confronting Trump’s accusers.
Daniels and Cohen later reconciled: she appeared twice on Cohen’s Mea Culpa podcast.