Michael Avenatti Has Been A VERY NAUGHTY BOY
Goddammit, Blue Eyes! You coulda had class. You coulda been a contender. Well ... maybe not so much. But it sure as shit didn't have to go down like this. Today Michael Avenatti is being charged with extortion in New York, stealing client funds in California, and bank fraud in Mississippi. Goin' out in a blaze of glory, baby!
With the proviso that we will be forever grateful to this fucking idiot for handing us Michael Cohen and Trump's campaign finance violations on a silver platter, let's get into this HOT MESS OF STUPID.
Our Derp Safari begins on the East Coast, where Michael Avenatti got the bright idea -- allegedly! -- to extort a little company known as "Nike." Seems that Avenatti and his partner, CNN legal analyst Mark Geragos, got themselves a client in California who coaches high school basketball. In the past, Nike sponsored the client's team to the tune of $72,000 per year. After Nike pulled out, the coach threatened to go public about alleged payments to high school athletes.
For his silence, the coach wanted just $1.5 million. And all Avenatti and Geragos wanted was to be paid $25 million to do an "internal investigation" of Nike. So Nike said, HMMM LET US GET BACK TO YOU! After which they immediately contacted the FBI. And instead of cutting his losses and denying the conversation ever happened, like a not insane person, Avenatti got himself recorded by law enforcement on March 20 threatening to hold a press conference revealing the payments to students and "take ten billion dollars off your client's market cap." Leave aside -- for the moment -- the fact that revealing his client's involvement in a kickback scheme would be malpractice, this is pretty much the textbook definition of extortion.
But wait, you are saying, there cannot possibly be MORE. Oh, but there can! Because the next day, Nike's lawyers said, "Mr. Avenatti, would you like another chance to lay out your extortion plans? And can you speak slowly and clearly as you explain that you're just trying to cash in for yourself, and you don't care how much your client receives in settlement?" And Avenatti said, "Hell yeah, I would!" (We are paraphrasing. A little.)
When asked how he could justify a huge lump sum payment, much more than Nike's attorneys at Boies Schiller Flexner LLP had ever been paid, Avenatti asked if the Boies attorney "had ever held the balls of the client in your hand where you could take five to six billion dollars market cap off of them." And then he threatened to hold a press conference this morning announcing the alleged payments to students. Which is just good, clean fun! He was probably just kidding, right?
OH. MY. GOD.
Sadly, Avenatti was unavailable to be arraigned in New York, since he was arrested this morning in California. Womp womp. But before we get to the Sunshine State, let's stop for a brief layover at The People's Bank in Biloxi, Mississippi, where Our Hero is alleged to have submitted false tax returns to secure $4.1 million in loans. Who among us hasn't doctored three years' worth of federal tax returns to get a loan, right? Oh, you haven't? Well, before you get all high and mighty, Michael Avenatti will have you know that he never did that either. Because he hadn't actually submitted any returns in the first place, so he fabricated them in their entirety.
That seems kind of BAD. But every good Lawyer Losin' His Damn Mind story has to have a chapter on stealing from the client, and Mr. Avenatti's is no different. Well, he did go the extra mile and "lend" his client $100,000 of the client's own money -- Avenatti was pretending the money hadn't arrived yet -- which is novel. Good thing he had just enough toner left in the printer after faking those tax returns (allegedly) to dummy up a settlement sheet claiming the cash was coming due in March, rather than January when it actually arrived (allegedly).
We'd point out that stealing client funds is a surefire way to wind up disbarred, but we're pretty sure losing his license to practice law is the least of Michael Avenatti's problems. In fact, we're just going to go lie down in a dark room for a minute and contemplate the spectacular flame out. And then we're going to come right back and deal with the inevitable backlash from the wingnuts who try to play off the pornstar payoff campaign finance scandal by pointing out that Avenatti is a charlatan. Which he is! But that doesn't change the fact that Trump conspired with the National Enquirer and Michael Cohen to pay off women he bumped bits with, and then routed the undisclosed campaign finance violation through the Trump Organization.
THAT DOG WON'T HUNT.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.