Avenatti convicted

Disgraced attorney and former CNN/MSNBC star Michael Avenatti has been convicted on charges of embezzling $300,000 of the advance paid to his client Stormy Daniels for her 2018 memoir Full Disclosure. (Full disclosure: Daniels “wrote” the book with a little help from Kevin Carr O’Leary.) Reuters has a good 4-minute read reporting on Avenatti’s conviction. Surely your attention can survive the four minutes required to take it in. The New York Times has a story that clocks in on my timepiece over four minutes. The Washington Post story adds some amusing details regarding Avenatti’s closing argument. The New York Post flags its cover story as “Porn loser.”

A commercial publisher committed to pay good money — some $800,000 — for Stormy’s memoir. In the book’s introductory note, Avenatti vouched for Stormy: “She doesn’t try to pretend to be something she isn’t…That is very refreshing. And it is something to be cherished.” Stormy’s authenticity is probably not something to be cherished. The compilation of clips below is something to be cherished. What a bunch of twits and fools.

Avenatti took over his own defense at trial. When Stormy took the stand, Avenatti sought to elicit Stormy’s regard for the work he performed on her behalf. It led to this classic moment in cross-examination:

Avenatti: Didn’t you tell the New York Times that watching me work was like watching the Sistine Chapel painted?

Stormy Daniels: That’s what you told me to say.

It’s hard to beat that, but it put me in mind of Robert Benchley’s 1935 New Yorker column “Take the witness!” It’s collected in The Benchley Roundup, edited by Nathaniel Benchley, and was turned into a short film. In the column Benchley renders his imagined humbling of an obnoxious attorney during cross-examination. “It is justice that I am after—Justice and a few well-spotted laughs,” he writes. Here is one exchange with the imagined reaction:

Q—Perhaps you would rather that I conducted this inquiry in baby talk?

A—If it will make it any easier for you. (Pandemonium, which the Court feels that it has to quell, although enjoying it obviously as much as the spectators.)

The Reuters story notes that Avenatti called no witnesses and did not testify in his own defense. Asked after the verdict whether he regretted his decision to represent himself, he said, “No. Not at all.”

The story adds: “The highlight of the trial was Avenatti’s five-hour cross-examination of Daniels, where he sought to undermine his former client’s credibility by exposing her interest in paranormal activities.” But her “belief” is show biz: “Daniels, who is producing a documentary-style TV show on ghost hunting called ‘Spooky Babes,’ testified that she believed she could speak with the dead.” I’m thinking that the title of the show is something of a giveaway.

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