A federal judge ruled that President Donald Trump’s tweets are protected by the First Amendment.
WASHINGTON – The bad news for Michael Avenatti just keeps coming.
The California attorney who rose to fame this year in his fight against President Donald Trump was accused Wednesday by his star client of filing a lawsuit against her wishes and raising money in a crowdfunding campaign without her permission.
Porn star Stormy Daniels made the accusations in a statement to the Daily Beast, telling the publication that a defamation lawsuit filed against the president, one of several lawsuits the pair filed this year, was done “against my wishes” and she’s tried for months to get information about crowdfunding accounts he’d set up for her defense and has been met with silence.
“Michael has been a great advocate in many ways. I’m tremendously grateful to him for aggressively representing me in my fight to regain my voice,” Daniels told the Daily Beast. “But in other ways Michael has not treated me with the respect and deference an attorney should show to a client.”
Daniels then publicly aired her grievances and added she hadn’t “decided yet what to do about legal representation moving forward.”
“He has spoken on my behalf without my approval. He filed a defamation case against Donald Trump against my wishes,” Daniels said of the lawsuit, which she lost last month and was ordered to pay the president legal fees. “He repeatedly refused to tell me how my legal defense fund was being spent. Now he has launched a new crowdfunding campaign using my face and name without my permission and attributing words to me that I never wrote or said.”
A crowdfunding page on Crowdjustice.com was set up as the pair started their legal quest earlier this year to free Daniels from a nondisclosure agreement, in which she was paid $130,000 to stay quiet about an alleged affair with Trump. The fund raised more than $500,000 and has since been listed as “funded” on the site.
A second fund was created earlier this week and Avenatti posted a link on social media Tuesday, asking for donations to “support Stormy.” On Wednesday, it appears the fund was deleted and the site now lists a “page not found” message.
“I don’t want to hurt Michael, but it’s time to set the record straight,” Daniels said. “The truth has always been my greatest ally.”
Avenatti responded to Daniels’ claims, pushing back in a statement to USA TODAY. He said he had “personally sacrificed an enormous amount of money, time and energy toward assisting her because I believe in her.”
“I have always been an open book with Stormy as to all aspects of her cases and she knows that,” Avenatti said. “You need only look back at her numerous prior interviews where she states we talk and communicate multiple times every day about her cases.”
Avenatti said the cash raised from the crowdfunding campaigns aimed to help pay legal fees but have mostly been spent for Daniels’ security.
“The retention agreement Stormy signed back in February provided that she would pay me $100.00 and that any and all other monies raised via a legal fund would go toward my legal fees and costs,” Avenatti said. “Instead, the vast majority of the money raised has gone toward her security expenses and similar other expenses.”
He said the second campaign was “simply a refresh of the prior campaign, designed to help defray some of Stormy’s expenses.”
The potential division between Daniels and Avenatti would be latest piece of bad news for the attorney, who for months has flirted with a potential 2020 run for president.
Earlier this month, Avenatti was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence. Felony charges were not filed in the case but officials are still examining whether any misdemeanor offenses were committed.
Attorney Michael Avenatti has been released from police custody following his arrest on a felony domestic violence charge in Los Angeles. (Nov. 14)
The victim wrote in a request for a restraining order against Avenatti that the attorney dragged her by the arm across the floor of his Los Angeles apartment after an argument.
His law firm was also evicted this month after not paying more than $213,000 in rent and last month, he was ordered to pay $4.85 million in back pay to an attorney who worked for his former law firm.
Avenatti had also drawn the ire of some for his role in the confirmation process of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Critics said the decades-old allegations about a gang rape by his client Julie Swetnick cast doubt on the other allegations of sexual assault.