Stormy Daniels cross-examined by her former lawyer Michael Avenatti
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Stormy Daniels, the porn actor who was paid to remain silent about his alleged affair with former President Donald Trump, testified against his former attorney Michael Avenatti before being cross-examined by him in federal court in New York 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 & Crime. Avenatti was granted only a short time before Furman adjourned for the day, but is expected to resume questioning on Friday.
Avenatti is defending herself against charges that she defrauded Daniels, real name Stephanie Clifford, out of $300,000 of the money she received from her book deal.
He announced on Tuesday that he had fired his lawyers following a “breakdown” in trial strategy discussions, putting him in a position to question his former ally under oath on the stand. Until their falling out, the couple were a thorn in Trump’s side during his presidency.
During direct questioning, Daniels identified Avenatti in the Manhattan courtroom and told jurors, “I hired a new lawyer because he robbed me and lied to me,” according to Reuters .
Daniels received $800,000 from publisher St. Martin’s Press as an advance for his 2018 memoir, “Full Disclosure.” She said Avenatti told her the publisher was dragging its feet on some of his payments when he actually forged a document telling the publisher to send the funds to a bank account controlled by Avenatti. He reportedly used the $300,000 for personal expenses, including a lease on a Ferrari.
Daniels fired Avenatti in early 2019, and prosecutors filed charges a few months later.
Avenatti said he was “completely innocent”. He says he made the money he took from his client, although he doesn’t appear to have been open with her about where the money went.
On Thursday, Daniels testified that 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 fund her legal defense fund, as Avenatti would not be working for free.
Avenatti also asked seemingly unrelated questions about his supernatural TV show, “Spooky Babes,” according to Adam Klasfeld, Law and Crime Journalist.
For a time, Avenatti became a regular cable news commentator after stepping into the national spotlight as Daniels’ attorney, representing her when she was arrested at an Ohio strip club and in his multiple lawsuits against Trump.
Her case against him is just one of many cases Avenatti has fought in recent years; federal prosecutors also charged him with defrauding various customers and attempting to extort millions from Nike. The California-based lawyer was disbarred in 2020 after practicing law for two decades.
Daniels received a silent payment of $130,000 from Trump’s former fixer, attorney Michael Cohen, in the months leading up to the 2016 presidential election to keep quiet about an affair she says she had. (Trump denies the claim.) Cohen later pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance laws by making the payment and served time in prison, but not before clashing in public with the Trump accusers.
Daniels and Cohen then mended the fences: She appeared twice on Cohen’s podcast, “Mea Culpa.”
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