CNN's Toobin on Avenatti: 'I feel kind of snookered because I took him seriously'

CNN's Toobin on Avenatti: 'I feel kind of snookered because I took him seriously'
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CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said Friday night that he felt “snookered” after learning that lawyer Michael Avenatti was convicted on charges of trying to extort athletic clothing company Nike for millions of dollars.

“I feel kind of snookered because I took him seriously,” Toobin told CNN anchor Anderson Cooper during a segment about the conviction.

Avenatti, an attorney who rose to fame as an anti-Trump voice representing adult-film star Stormy Daniels in cases against the president, was a regular guest on CNN and other networks and was at one point floated as a potential presidential candidate.

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"He wanted to gin up a fight with the president, but he lost every case that he brought on Stormy’s behalf,” Toobin said Friday. “And now he’s accused of stealing money from her as well.”

Toobin described the conviction as “total collapse” of Avenatti's image and recounted an instance when he was walking with the lawyer in midtown Manhattan and “it was like walking with a major, major celebrity.”

“People came up to him,” he said. “It’s like, you know, ‘Go for it! Go get Trump!’ You know, he had this hashtag #basta. People remember that. ... I mean, the craziness of this.”

Prosecutors claim that throughout several phone calls in March 2019, Avenatti threatened to discuss alleged improper payments to college basketball recruits by Nike if the company did not pay him up to $25 million.

Avenatti's lawyer is making the case that he was simply defending his client, amateur basketball coach Gary Franklin, who hired Avenatti after Nike chose not to renew its $72,000 annual sponsorship of Franklin’s basketball program.

Avenatti could already be facing decades in prison and is still facing trial in two other cases for allegedly defrauding his legal clients.