Avenatti defends right to release Cohen’s financial info
Michael Avenatti, the attorney representing adult-film star Stormy Daniels, argued in a court filing Monday that the First Amendment protected his release of financial records pertaining to President Trump’s longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen.
In the filing in New York, Avenatti responded to claims from Cohen’s attorneys that Avenatti spread false information and had no right to publicize his bank records. Avenatti argued that the documents are of the “utmost public concern.”
Avenatti published documents last week that showed Cohen had set up a corporation through which he received money from AT&T, Swiss drug company Novartis and other companies and individuals.
The company, Essential Consultants LLC, was also used to pay $130,000 to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, as part of a nondisclosure agreement related to an alleged affair with President Trump in 2006.
In response to the bombshell release, Cohen’s lawyers sought to bar Avenatti from appearing in court in New York’s Southern District, where Cohen has an ongoing case.
Cohen’s lawyers claimed that parts of Avenatti’s document were untrue, and that it referenced a number of wire transfers and transactions that Cohen himself was never involved in.
In Monday’s filing, Avenatti argued that much of the contents of his document has since been proven true. For example, Novartis and AT&T have since acknowledged they paid Cohen for insight into the administration.
In addition, Avenatti wrote that Cohen’s legal team did not “cite a single statute, rule, case, or any other legal authority” that would indicate he should be barred from appearing before the court.
“Given the dearth of legal or factual support relating to anything having to do with Mr. Avenatti’s right to advocate on behalf of his client in this Court, Mr. Cohen’s arguments must be summarily rejected,” Avenatti wrote.
Cohen is reportedly under investigation for bank fraud and campaign finance law violations.
The FBI raided his office and home last month, reportedly seizing financial records and documents related to his payment of Daniels and another woman who alleged she had an affair with Trump.