Did Hillary Clinton or the Democratic National Committee ever pay Michael Avenatti?
The question isn’t exactly new. It was at least hinted at as early as May 10, 2018. That day, Mark Penn, a former advisor to President Bill Clinton, published an op-ed in The Hill newspaper. At the time, the news was filled with the rantings of Avenatti, who gained his fame and notoriety representing former porn star Stormy Daniels. Daniels was claiming she was paid to cover up an affair with Donald Trump before he was elected president.
Penn’s column raised several good questions. They have become even more relevant now that Avenatti, on trial for allegedly stealing money from Daniels, is back in the news.
So exactly who is paying Michael Avenatti? And is he a lawyer, an opposition researcher, a journalist, or a campaign operative?
He wants to make the discussion all about where Michael Cohen, President Trump’s personal attorney, got his money but, to have clean hands, Avenatti needs to come forward with exactly who is financing his operation, who his sources were for detailed banking information, and whether he really is an attorney solely representing Stormy Daniels or just using her as cover to wage a political operation.
From the beginning, this has been fishy. Daniels’s previous lawyer advised her to stick to her agreements. In contrast, Avenatti okayed her violating with impunity her non-disclosure agreement on ‘60 Minutes’ despite a binding arbitration judgment against her. She acknowledged on Twitter that she is not paying for her lawyer. So who is? And did he indemnify her against all multimillion-dollar penalties?
Finally, Penn ended with this haymaker:
It took a long time and even a court battle to find out that the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee paid for the Fusion GPS dossier, a fact that was disclosed only after the damage was done, as former British spy and the dossier’s compiler, Christopher Steele, had already created a vast echo chamber as though the material he was peddling had been verified in some way, which of course, it never was. Now Avenatti is being allowed to repeat this same process, mixing truths with half truths and evading accountability.
Avenatti has been given a free, unfettered media perch on TV to spread his stuff without the networks forcing him to meet any disclosure requirements, saying that he is Daniels’s attorney when someone else entirely is paying for this operation is not true disclosure that allows the viewer to evaluate the source and potential conflicts. He is now being given deference as though he is a journalist interested in protecting unverified sources while he makes headline-grabbing pronouncements. Lawyers need to disclose the source of their evidence.
I have some personal experience with Avenatti, the man Tucker Carlson calls “the creepy porn lawyer.” In fall 2018, the political Left and the media tried to destroy Brett Kavanaugh, a high school friend of mine. Central to their effort was Michael John Avenatti.
The creepy porn lawyer lived on television (he was interviewed 147 times in one week alone), and was fawned over by journalists who claim to possess street smarts, yet couldn’t find their way out of their own bathrooms without help.
In the fall of 2018, a woman named Christine Blasey Ford accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her in 1982 when we were all in high school. Ford claimed that I was in the room when the incident allegedly happened. Ford, who had every intention of going public, was a bad actor, in both senses of the term.
“Sloppy” doesn’t begin to describe the corporate-Left’s reporting about the claims against Kavanaugh and me. Vanity Fair had to issue a correction admitting that a woman who’d said we went to college together in fact had attended a different school. The Washington Post withheld exonerating evidence presented by a witness they excluded from their explosive first story about Ford’s allegations. Reporters used as sources people who had never so much as laid eyes on Kavanaugh or me.
Then came Avenatti. On September 24, 2018, I got a nasty message on my phone from someone saying, “You like [expletive] with people? I like [expletive] with people, too. Give me a call.” I still don’t know who the call was from, but I did give the number to the FBI.
Words I had learned as a kid watching “The Exorcist” came back to me: “Do not talk to the demon. The demon is a liar.”
Later that same day, Avenatti went on TV where he appeared apoplectic and said my name 13 times within a span of two minutes. He was flustered. Extortion wasn’t working, as it would fail with Nike. Avenatti had figured out that I was too street smart to hand him the shiv to plant into my back. I was not about to give into the mob.
Then the creepy porn lawyer produced a woman named Julie Swetnick. Swetnick claimed that Brett and I had attended 10 parties in high school where girls were drugged and gang raped. She claimed that she herself was the victim of a gang rape.
The story was too good to check. In a move that would have gotten an intern fired, NBC’s Kate Snow not only put Swetnick on air without any vetting, she also withheld information that would have damaged Avenatti.
During the first week of October, when Kavanaugh still had not been confirmed, Avenatti claimed he had a woman who would corroborate Swetnick’s claims. It was a lie.
From NBC News:
Reached by phone independently from Avenatti on Oct. 3, the woman said she only ‘skimmed’ the declaration [Avenatti had written for her]. After reviewing the statement, she wrote in a text on Oct. 4 to NBC News: ‘It is incorrect that I saw Brett spike the punch. I didn’t see anyone spike the punch . . . I was very clear with Michael Avenatti from day one.’
There was more: “I would not ever allow anyone to be abusive in my presence. Male or female,” the woman told NBC. “I will definitely talk to you again and no longer Avenatti. I do not like that he twisted my words,” she wrote.
Rather than report this news at the time, which would have helped Judge Kavanaugh, NBC sat on the story for several weeks. From Fox News on October 26, 2018:
NBC News is under fire for sitting on information that would have cast serious doubt on wild claims about now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh just when the unsubstantiated allegations were rocking the judge’s confirmation to the high court.
Controversial attorney Michael Avenatti and client Julie Swetnick claimed last month Kavanaugh took part in high school gang rapes just as Kavanaugh was defending himself against a separate, uncorroborated claim. Avenatti connected NBC News with an anonymous woman he claimed could corroborate Swetnick’s allegations, but instead accused the lawyer of ‘twisting’ her words. Still, NBC went with Swetnick’s story without disclosing the exculpatory reporting.
On Thursday, nearly three weeks after Kavanaugh’s confirmation, NBC News published an article headlined, ‘New questions raised about Avenatti claims regarding Kavanaugh,’ that detailed ‘inconsistencies’ with Swetnick’s claims. In the article, NBC News admitted the unidentified woman repudiated the sworn statement Avenatti provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee on her behalf to corroborate Swetnick’s claims.
Kavanaugh’s polarizing confirmation proceedings ended on Oct. 6, when the Senate voted 50-48 to confirm him to the high court.
Swetnick had once been represented by attorney Debra Katz, who also represented Christine Blasey Ford. From the CNN website on September 26, 2018:
Two sources told CNN that Swetnick filed a sexual harassment complaint against a former employer a decade ago and was represented in the matter by a lawyer from Katz’s firm. Swetnick is currently represented by attorney Michael Avenatti, who rose to prominence earlier this year for representing Stormy Daniels. A source familiar with the matter confirmed that a lawyer at Katz’s firm did represent Swetnick, but that it was not Katz herself. The source said Katz never represented Swetnick and that the firm did not refer Swetnick to Avenatti for representation.
I guess that settles that.
The scam of 2018 was an opposition research dump made up of an unholy trinity. It was journalists working with lawyers and opposition researchers, who in turn were working with the lawyers and politicians. The whole thing was one reckless, self-perpetuating, toxic scrum. The Left cast a net over the Washington metropolitan area (it included my high school yearbook). Anything they dragged up was used against us. I was called a drunk, a racist, a misogynist—even a fan of Benny Hill.
It was the kind of thing that happens in totalitarian states. The people who set it up may go to jail or go to therapy or return to their high paying media jobs. They will also die without honor.
At his sentencing in 2021, Avenatti wept. “Your honor, I’ve learned that all the fame, notoriety and money in the world is meaningless. TV and Twitter, your honor, mean nothing,” he said. He then mentioned his three children, including two teenage daughters who wrote letters to the judge. “Every father wants their children to be proud of them. I want mine to be ashamed. Because if they are ashamed, it means their moral compass is exactly where it should be.”
That’s fine, fraud. Now who paid you?