Avenatti: Russian government is trying to smear me
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The lawyer for adult-film star Stormy Daniels claims in a new interview that agents of the Russian government are attempting to plant false stories about him in U.S. news outlets.

In an interview with the Daily Beast, Michael Avenatti said that two sources in the news media and a high-ranking U.S. intelligence official told him of an ongoing effort to plant damaging stories about him.

“They were trying to claim that I, too, had taken a trip to Moscow ... I’ve never been to Moscow in my life, I’ve never traveled to Russia in my life," Avenatti said Tuesday, adding that the alleged Russian agents “suggested that I had had a liaison with multiple women in Russia."

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“I found that to be rather ironic," he said.

“They’re doing it because they see me as a threat, a considerable threat,” Avenatti added. “If we weren’t a threat, none of this would be happening.”

Avenatti is representing Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, against Trump and his lawyer Michael Cohen, whom the actress accuses of defamation over their denials of her allegations of a 2006 affair with Trump.

She is also seeking to nullify a $130,000 nondisclosure agreement that she and Cohen signed just weeks before the 2016 election.

The lawsuits became linked to the ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign's possible ties to Russia in May, when Avenatti revealed that Cohen was paid $500,000 in the days following the election by a Russian company owned by an oligarch linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin, among other actors and companies seeking access and insight on the Trump administration.

Avenatti said at the time that he believes the payment from the Putin-linked billionaire Viktor Vekselberg was meant to reimburse Cohen for the payment he made to Daniels over the alleged affair.

The attorney told the Daily Beast that the case made him "nervous," and that this most recent revelation about the alleged smear campaign only "raises the stakes."

“I think I’ve been nervous for the entirety of the case,” he said. “Certainly this raises the stakes. But we’re not going to pack up and go home. I’m not going to change what I’m doing just because the Russians don’t like it.”