Avenatti pleads not guilty to federal fraud charges in California

Avenatti pleads not guilty to federal fraud charges in California

Michael Avenatti pleaded not guilty to a slew of charges in federal court in California on Monday.

Avenatti, who has said he committed no wrongdoing in the federal cases against him, pleaded not guilty to 36 counts, including several alleging that he defrauded clients by misusing more than $12 million he received on their behalf through settlements and other negotiations.

The lawyer confirmed the plea in a tweet linking to a statement he had issued earlier on Monday. 

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In the statement, Avenatti announced that he would enter the not guilty plea ahead of his court appearance, adding that he will “demand” his right to the presumption of innocence and a jury trial.

“We don’t convict someone in America based on a one-sided argument and a press-conference,” Avenatti said. “Even when he is one of the biggest enemies of the president and his son.”

Camera crews were waiting outside the courthouse where Avenatti entered his pleas, but the lawyer did not make any additional statements to the media.

In addition to the charges he is facing in California, Avenatti is also charged in New York with the attempted blackmail of Nike. He has also denied those charges.

Avenatti emerged into the national spotlight after representing adult-film star Stormy Daniels in her lawsuit against President TrumpDonald John TrumpMichael Flynn transcripts reveal plenty except crime or collusion 50 people arrested in Minneapolis as hundreds more National Guard troops deployed Missouri state lawmaker sparks backlash by tweeting 'looters deserve to be shot' MORE. Daniels has claimed she had an affair with Trump.

A payment made to Daniels by former Trump lawyer Michael CohenMichael Dean CohenRosenstein to testify as part of Graham's Russia investigation probe The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Mnuchin: More COVID-19 congressional action ahead Cohen released from federal prison to home confinement due to coronavirus concerns MORE has been at the heart of a federal investigation into alleged campaign finance violations over hush money payments made shortly ahead of the 2016 election to women claiming to have engaged in affairs with the president.

Daniels and Avenatti parted ways ahead of his arrest. 

Avenatti repeatedly teased a potential presidential run in 2020, but announced last year that he would not seek the Democratic nomination.