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‘He Lied to Me’: Stormy Daniels Testifies Against Former Lawyer Michael Avenatti

‘He Lied to Me’: Stormy Daniels Testifies Against Former Lawyer Michael Avenatti

Stormy Daniels Cohen Payment

Adult film actress Stormy Daniels told jurors at her former lawyer Michael Avenatti’s criminal fraud trial on Thursday that he “stole from me and lied to me” by diverting proceeds from a book she wrote. Daniels famously received $130,000 of hush money from Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, to keep quiet before the 2016 presidential election about a sexual liaison she claimed to have once had with Trump, which Trump denies.

Testifying as a prosecution witness, Daniels said in Manhattan federal court that Avenatti, whom she had retained to help her escape a non-disclosure agreement with Donald Trump, told her he would “never take a penny” from the 2018 memoir, titled “Full Disclosure.” Avenatti has pleaded not guilty to wire fraud and identity theft. Throughout his criminal prosecution, Avenatti has claimed to have been targeted because of his sharp criticism of Trump. He filed a $94 million claim alleging that the Trump administration kept him in brutal conditions inside drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán’s former jail cell as payback.

Avenatti, who is representing himself, brashly cross-examined Daniels for about 10 minutes on Thursday before the jury was dismissed for the day. Cross-examination was expected to resume on Friday.

Avenatti’s work for Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, helped propel him to fame in 2018, including a brief time where he considered a presidential run, before a slew of criminal charges the following year ended his law practice. Avenatti embezzled nearly $300,000 of proceeds intended for Daniels, prosecutors have said, in part by forging her signature on instructions to the publisher about where to send the funds. Daniels testified that Avenatti never told her about the account. “I felt very betrayed and stupid,” Daniels said. “Michael had been lying and stealing from me.”

Prosecutors displayed dozens of text messages between Avenatti and Daniels after a third advance payment under her book contract was due in October 2018. In response to messages asking why she had not received the money, Avenatti said he would send the publishing company a letter demanding that it pay Daniels. In February 2019, after Daniels learned the company had paid Avenatti, she sent him a screenshot of the payment records, the documents showed. “They had sent my payment on time, no question, and he lied to me almost every day for five months,” she testified.

Avenatti was hit with dozens of criminal charges in March and April 2019 for allegedly cheating Daniels, defrauding several other clients, and trying to extort up to $25 million from Nike, among other charges. During his sentencing for conspiring to defraud Nike, Avenatti disavowed the mediums that gave him national fame: “TV and Twitter, your honor, mean nothing.” A separate federal trial in California accusing him of a variety of frauds ended in a mistrial.


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