The saga of former porn star Stormy Daniels and her attorney, Michael Avenatti, has hit a bit of rough patch lately that threatens to bring an end to their dogged pursuit of media fame in a defamation claim against President Donald Trump and Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen.
Avenatti withdrew his motion to represent Daniels in a federal case against Cohen in a New York courtroom during a conference hearing on May 30.
According to The Hill, that surprising move from Avenatti came after federal Judge Kimba Wood dressed Avenatti down in front of the court for his incessant “publicity tour” and constant smears against Cohen in the national media.
“You cannot declare your opinion as to Mr. Cohen’s guilt, which you did. You would not be able to give publicity to documents,” stated Wood, in reference to Avenatti’s public release of confidential bank records belonging to Cohen that had been surreptitiously leaked to him.
“You’re entitled to publicity. I can’t stop you — unless you’re participating in a matter before me,” Wood continued.
According to TIME, Judge Wood stated, “I either want you to participate, or not be in the matter at all.”
“I don’t want you to have some existence in a limbo where you’re free to denigrate Mr. Cohen, and I believe potentially deprive him of a fair trial by tainting a jury pool,” she added.
Faced with the prospect of having to cease his national media “publicity tour” if he wanted to represent Daniels — real name Stephanie Clifford — in the New York federal case against Cohen, Avenatti chose the media attention over his client.
It is worth noting that Avenatti still represents Daniels in her defamation suit filed against Trump and Cohen in a Los Angeles court, and retained the right to revisit his decision in the New York case if Daniels becomes more involved in that suit.
The federal case in New York is less about the allegations put forward by Daniels and is instead a federal matter focused on Cohen’s records and allegations of bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations.
TIME noted that Avenatti proceeded to deliver a brief statement to the media outside the courtroom after the hearing was finished and appeared for an interview on MSNBC just two hours later, making it clear where his priorities lie … and they aren’t with Daniels.
Perhaps Daniels should reconsider her own decision to have Avenatti represent her at all, given his now obvious preference toward media attention than in properly representing her.