Michael Avenatti has become a media fixture lately, thanks to his legal representation of porn star/Trump accuser Stormy Daniels, but there’s at least one media outlet he wasn’t chummy with on Tuesday — the Los Angeles Times.
Avenatti tore into LA Times reporter Michael Finnegan on Tuesday, after Finnegan tweeted that Avenatti’s law firm was slapped with a $10 million judgment in bankruptcy court, and that a justice department lawyer said that Avenatti had defaulted on back taxes after agreeing to pay them.
In a stern response to the tweet, Avenatti called out Finnegan, saying that the firm in question has “no ties to the Daniels case.”
“Nonsense. Completely different law firm – no ties to Daniels case. Irrelevant. Over blown,” Avanatti wrote. “Sensational reporting at its finest. Check the facts next time please and report accurately.”
Finnegan’s Times story states that U.S. bankruptcy court Judge Catherine Bauer ordered the law firm of Eagan Avenatti to pay former firm lawyer Jason Frank $10 million, after a promised $2 million payment wasn’t delivered to Frank.
“At this point, that’s what’s appropriate,” Bauer was quoted as saying at a hearing.
According to the Times’ report, Avenatti “personally guaranteed” that the payment would be made to Frank last week, but the money was not forthcoming.
The Times also said that, according to the U.S. Justice Department, the firm had defaulted on back taxes to the IRS that it vowed to pay under a separate bankruptcy settlement. Citing court records, the Times reported that Avenatti “personally agreed” to pay the IRS $2.4 million, an amount that includes back taxes, penalties and interest. However, the Times reported, while “at least $1.5 million” of that amount was paid off, U.S. attorney Najah Shariff told the court that Avenatti and the firm missed an installment due last week.
In another Avenatti repudiation published in the story itself, the lawyer accused the news outlet of “purposely confusing me with a separate legal entity that has no role in the Daniels case.”
Avenatti also told the Times, “No judgment against me was issued nor do I owe any taxes.”
In a subsequent tweet, Finnegan responded, “Avenatti has not challenged the accuracy of a single fact in this story, now updated with more details on his personal responsibility for millions of dollars in back taxes and unpaid bills.”
In March, Daniels, who reportedly had an affair with Donald Trump before he ascended to the U.S. presidency, filed a lawsuit against Trump, saying that Trump and his attorney Michael Cohen “aggressively sought to silence” her when she planned to make her story public in late 2016.
According to the suit, Daniels was presented with a “Hush Agreement” referring to Daniels — whose real name is Stephanie Clifford — as “Peggy Peterson” or “PP” and Trump as “David Dennison” or “DD.” However, the suit says, Trump did not sign the agreement.
The suit contends that efforts to silence Daniels have continued unabated, and that in February of this year Cohen “surreptitiously initiated a bogus arbitration proceeding against Ms. Clifford in Los Angeles. Remarkably, he did so without even providing Ms. Clifford with notice of the proceeding and basic due process.”
“Put simply, considerable steps have been taken by Mr. Cohen in the last week to silence Ms. Clifford through the use of an improper and procedurally defective arbitration proceeding hidden from public view,” the suit reads. “The extent of Mr. Trump’s involvement in these efforts is presently unknown, but it strains credibility to conclude that Mr. Cohen is acting on his own accord without the express approval and knowledge of his client Mr. Trump.”
In April, the Associated Press reported that Daniels had again sued Trump, this time for defamation, saying that a Trump tweet in which he dismissed a composite sketch that Daniels says shows the man who threatened her to remain silent about her reported relationship with the president was defamatory.
Breaking: Avenatti law firm hit today with $10 million judgment in US Bankruptcy Court. Justice Dept lawyer says Avenatti also defaulted on back taxes he’d agreed to pay. Story ahead.
— Michael Finnegan (@finneganLAT) May 22, 2018
Nonsense. Completely different law firm – no ties to Daniels case. Irrelevant. Over blown. Sensational reporting at its finest. Check the facts next time please and report accurately.
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) May 22, 2018
Avenatti has not challenged the accuracy of a single fact in this story, now updated with more details on his personal responsibility for millions of dollars in back taxes and unpaid bills. https://t.co/mMw2BkdlBg https://t.co/9faKDUrmws
— Michael Finnegan (@finneganLAT) May 22, 2018