He was given the name “creepy porn lawyer” by Tucker Carlson, but for a time, attorney Michael Avenatti was living large and appearing seemingly nightly on CNN with the since-fired pundit Brian Stelter. But things later turned south for the Trump-hating former lawyer of adult film performer Stormy Daniels. As my colleague Jim Thompson wrote Wednesday:
For a precious few months, Avenatti was like cigarette butts, he was everywhere – making appearances on multiple cable stations on the same day claiming he had the goods on Trump. What he wasn’t doing was making an honest living. Soon, as they say, the walls caved in. Avenatti is no longer living large, he’s living in a tiny cell with numbers on his government-issued shirt, serving a long prison term for trying to extort money from Nike.
Avenatti argued that jurors who convicted him in the extortion case weren’t properly instructed on a relevant statute and that the evidence didn’t support the charges. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was unmoved, however, and rejected that argument Wednesday on a 3-0 vote.
“Avenatti’s sufficiency challenge to the extortion counts of conviction fails because the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the prosecution, permitted a reasonable jury to conclude that he had no claim of right to a personal payment from Nike, let alone to a $15-25 million payment,” the Wednesday opinion stated.
“Avenatti advances several arguments in urging a contrary conclusion,” it added. “None persuades.”
“None persuades.” I like that.
The 2nd Circuit has affirmed Michael Avenatti’s @Nike extortion convictions.
“Accordingly, because Avenatti’s arguments on appeal all fail on the merits, we AFFIRM the February 18, 2022 amended judgment of conviction in its entirety.”
79-page ruling: https://t.co/AVkEic3QAn pic.twitter.com/nepncsts4o
— Meghann Cuniff (@meghanncuniff) August 30, 2023
It was in February 2020 that a jury found that Avenatti tried to extort Nike by threatening to expose damaging information about his allegation that the footwear and apparel company corruptly paid families of college players. Basically, his message was, “cough up $25 million, or I’ll blow the lid on the story” and ruin Nike’s reputation.
Not only did he not get his payday, but he was found guilty of extortion, wire fraud, and transmission of interstate communications with intent to extort. He was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison and fined $260,000, and that sentence remains after Wednesday’s ruling.
This isn’t Avenatti’s only brush with the law, however. In February 2022, he was convicted of stealing from his client, Stormy Daniels, who alleged that she had an affair with former President Donald Trump and that he paid her hush money to keep quiet about it:
Read: Former Media Darling and ‘Creepy Porn Lawyer’ Michael Avenatti Gets Four More Years in Prison
Daniels sued Trump for defamation over a critical tweet, but not only did she lose the case and an appeal, but she was ordered to pay almost $300,000 in the former president’s legal fees. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer person. Evidently, Avenatti was not only a crook but a lame lawyer as well.
One thing that bothers me most about much of the coverage during that time is that it portrayed Donald Trump as a predator but Stormy Daniels as a victim. As a happily married father of four, I don’t condone infidelity. On the other hand, if we are to believe Daniels’ allegations are true—which is questionable—why is she a victim? She claims to have had sex with Trump and then accepted his hush money payments.
Most media highlighted her as some sort of sympathetic figure, but aren’t her actions, if you believe her story—incredibly questionable?
Avenatti faces other legal woes as well:
Fourteen more years were tacked on last December after Avenatti pleaded guilty to cheating four other clients, including a paraplegic, out of millions of dollars.
Avenatti may be eligible for release in January 2036.
What makes this story interesting is not that it involves sleazy people, including a porn actress and a grifting lawyer. No, what makes it important is that it shines a bright light on how corrupt and standardless most of our national media has become. The press hated Donald Trump to such a degree that they repeatedly trotted out these two moralless creeps in front of the cameras and acted as if they were role models. They were anything but, but the media didn’t care because the pair were good at selling the “Trump is the Devil” narrative. Some even called for an Avenatti presidential run, an idea that was idiotic at the time but seems even more ludicrous in hindsight.
CNN’s Brian Stelter last year on Michael Avenatti running for president: “And looking ahead to 2020, one reason I’m taking you seriously as a contender is because of your presence on cable news.” pic.twitter.com/2Wn2bX17kx
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) May 22, 2019
It’s never nice to kick someone when they’re down, so all I’d say to Avenatti is, you reap what you sow.
On a completely random note, in July 2021, I was at a political event held at a Southern California airplane hangar, and surprise, surprise, there was (allegedly) Michael Avenatti’s $4.5 million impounded Honda HA-420 twin-engine private jet in the back. The feds had seized the plane, which he was co-owner of, in April 2019 due to his tax troubles with the IRS.