Stormy Daniels made a statement to The Daily Beast clarifying that legal action against Donald Trump was pursued against her wishes. Her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, filed a defamation lawsuit without Daniels’ consent in the matter, she says, and it seems he’s largely seized control of the situation.
Per Daniels’ statement, Avenatti launched online fundraisers for the legal processes and remains secretive about how those funds are being spent. Amidst these revelations, Daniels says she’s unsure if she’ll keep Avenatti on as her legal representation.
In 2011, Daniels agreed to do an interview about her 2006 encounter with Trump. Before the interview took place, Daniels was confronted by a man in a parking lot and threatened. When she spoke out about the incident, Trump tweeted his response, calling her a liar. It was on that basis that Avenatti pursued the defamation lawsuit earlier this year.
Her statement reveals that she never intended it to go this far. Daniels writes:
I’m tremendously grateful to [Avenatti] 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. He has spoken on my behalf without my approval. He filed a defamation case against Donald Trump against my wishes.
She elaborates that Avenatti:
... repeatedly refused to tell me how my legal defense fund was being spent. 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. 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. The truth has always been my greatest ally.
Before publishing its coverage, The Daily Beast reached out to Avenatti for a response. He attempts to clarify Daniels’ qualms with how he’s been handling her case:
I am and have always been Stormy’s biggest champion. I have personally sacrificed an enormous amount of money, time and energy toward assisting her because I believe in her. I have always been an open book with Stormy as to all aspects of her cases and she knows that. The retention agreement Stormy signed back in February provided that she would pay me $100 and that any and all other monies raised via a legal fund would go toward my legal fees and costs. Instead, the vast majority of the money raised has gone toward her security expenses and similar other expenses.
Avenatti also said he hasn’t taken any money for himself out of the funding. Apparently, his firm “spent well over a thousand hours of attorney time on the case at a value of over $1,500,000.”
It’s unclear how Daniels and Avenatti’s professional relationship will shake out. If Avenatti is acting without his client’s explicit permission, though, and Daniels takes him to court, he could see major legal repercussions.