On Tuesday, adult-film actress Stormy Daniels announced that she had a new lawyer, Clark Brewster, marking the end of her high-profile representation by attorney and attention magnet Michael Avenatti.
Just 11 minutes later, Avenatti replied with his own statement:
On February 19, we informed Stormy Daniels in writing that we were terminating our legal representation of her for various reasons that we cannot disclose publicly due to the attorney-client privilege. This was not a decision we made lightly and it came only after lengthy discussion, thought and deliberation, as well as consultation with other professionals. We wish Stormy all the best.
As of publication, much remains unclear, though Avenatti’s claim that he had informed Daniels of the split weeks ago was confirmed by Daniels’s new lawyer, who told CNBC that he “started reviewing these matters about two weeks ago.” Also speaking with CNBC, Avenatti stated that he “made the decision to terminate the representation.” As if that wasn’t clear enough, he followed up by email: “I terminated the relationship, NOT the other way around.”
The departure comes just five days after a federal judge in Los Angeles threw out the lawsuit in which Daniels had sought to release herself from the nondisclosure agreement she signed in 2016, after Michael Cohen paid her $130,000 out of his own pocket to stay silent on her alleged affair with Donald Trump — the one in which Daniels claims she spanked The Apprentice host in July 2006 with what was most likely a copy of TRUMP magazine. Judge S. James Otero threw out the suit because Daniels had not been held to the terms of agreement. On Monday, Clark Brewster and two lawyers from his Oklahoma-based firm entered their appearances on Daniels’s behalf for another lawsuit filed against Trump, a libel suit filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Daniels may have a few reasons for wanting to pursue a different legal option. In November, she claimed that Avenatti had sued Trump for defamation “against my wishes,” and set up a fundraising site for a legal defense fund in her name without informing her first.
Then there’s the matter of public image: If you’re looking for an attorney to stay out of the story, Michael Avenatti would probably not be your first choice. Since March 2018, when Daniels began to heavily publicize her alleged affair with the president, Avenatti announced and retracted his intention to run in the 2020 primary; was accused of “undercutting” Christine Blasey Ford’s case against Brett Kavanaugh; and was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence. (The city of Los Angeles eventually announced that Avenatti would not be charged.) Represented now by a seasoned trial attorney based out of Tulsa, Oklahoma, it appears Daniels is pursuing a more grounded route.