Adult-film actress Stormy Daniels claims that Michael Avenatti, her firebrand attorney, had litigated on her behalf against President Donald Trump without her approval.
In a statement sent to The Daily Beast, Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, alleged that Avenatti had spoken on her behalf “without my approval” and filed a defamation case “against my wishes.”
Daniels also alleged Avenatti had ignored her monthslong requests to give accounting information on crowdfunding for her legal fees, and instead, launched another crowdfunding campaign “to raise money on my behalf.”
“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,” Daniels said in her statement. “I’m deeply grateful to my supporters and they deserve to know their money is being spent responsibly. I don’t want to hurt Michael, but it’s time to set the record straight.”
Daniels suggested she was still considering whether to keep Avenatti as her attorney. After Avenatti was arrested on suspicion of felony domestic abuse earlier in November, Daniels said she would be “seeking new representation” if the allegations were proven to be true.
Avenatti adamantly denied the domestic abuse allegations. The Los Angeles district attorney declined to press charges, and the case, which is still under investigation, was referred to the city attorney.
“I haven’t decided yet what to do about legal representation moving forward,” Daniels said. “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.”
“But in other ways Michael has not treated me with the respect and deference an attorney should show to a client,” Daniels added.
In response to Daniels’ claims, Avenatti released his own statement to The Beast. The attorney asserted he was Daniels’ “biggest champion” and had “personally sacrificed an enormous amount of money, time and energy” for her case.
Avenatti said the funds from the crowdsourced donations were intended to pay for legal fees and costs, but instead, a portion of it went toward “security expenses and similar other expenses.” He continued by saying the new crowdsource effort “was simply a refresh” of the previous campaign and was “designed to defray some of [Daniels’] expenses.”
“We reset the page as the focus of the case changed from when we first launched the site,” Avenatti said to The Beast.
Avenatti, who asserted he had not “received a dime in attorney’s fees” through the crowdsource campaign, added in another email that Daniels’ “extraordinary” fees amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars “due to the high level of death threats” and “out-of-pocket costs” for litigation.
In her lawsuit against Trump, Daniels claimed he had defamed her by suggesting she had lied about an alleged relationship with him. A federal judge eventually ruled in favor of Trump and ordered Daniels to pay for his legal fees. Avenatti said he would appeal the case.
Avenatti and Daniels became household names after she said she and Trump had an affair in 2006. Trump has vehemently denied the allegation. Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney, said he arranged a $130,000 hush payment to squash the story in order to protect Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.