• Michael Avenatti is an attorney whose most famous client was Stormy Daniels.
  • He has inserted himself into the national conversation this year, often making claims about high-profile people, including President Donald Trump, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and R. Kelly.
  • Avenatti was also considering a 2020 presidential bid, but ruled it out after suffering numerous legal and professional setbacks.
  • A federal judge ruled against him in Daniels’ defamation suit against Trump, he was referred to the FBI on accusations of lying to Congress, he was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence, and on March 25, New York federal prosecutors charged Avenatti with attempting to extort more than $20 million from Nike.
  • Here’s a look at his career, and claims he’s made over the last several months.

Michael Avenatti may have been the most high-profile lawyer in America for a moment. The 48-year-old litigator has made headlines largely thanks to his former client, porn star and director Stormy Daniels.

Just days before the 2016 US election, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen arranged a $130,000 payment to Daniels to keep her silent about an affair she says she had with Trump in 2006.

Avenatti sued the president, on Daniels’ behalf, accusing Trump of invalidating a non-disclosure agreement, and of defaming Daniels.

Appearing on dozens of cable news shows, tweeting frequently, and often making claims that he has explosive information on people in the news, Avenatti has attempted to make himself a household name.

But in recent months, Avenatti has suffered a number of legal setbacks – including a judge ruling against him and Stormy Daniels’ in their defamation lawsuit against Trump, being referred to the FBI on suspicion of submitting false statements to Congress, and being arrested on suspicion of domestic violence.

While the Los Angeles district attorney’s office declined to press felony domestic violence charges against him, Avenatti decided to rule out a 2020 bid for the Presidency on December 4.

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And on March 25, New York federal prosecutors charged Avenatti with attempting to extort more than $20 million from Nike, alleging he tried to get the money by “threatening to use his ability to garner publicity to inflict substantial financial & reputational harm on the company if his demands were not met.”

Here’s what you should know about Michael Avenatti:


Avenatti graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1996. Three years later, he received his JD degree from George Washington University.

Foto: Michael Avenatti appears on “CNN.”sourceMichael Avenatti/YouTube

During college and law school, Avenatti worked for The Research Group, a campaign research firm founded by Rahm Emmanuel, former President Barack Obama’s chief of staff and the current Democratic mayor of Chicago.

Foto: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2015.sourceJean-Marc Giboux/AP

Source: Chicago Magazine


After graduating law school, Avenatti worked at O’Melveny & Myers, a high-powered Los Angeles law firm. Over the course of his legal career, he has contributed to several high-profile cases involving Paris Hilton, Jim Carrey, and members of the rock band The Eagles.

Foto: sourceAP Photo/Joe Frederick

At O’Melveny & Myers, Avenatti worked with Dan Petrocelli, the attorney who represented the family that sued OJ Simpson for murder. Simpson was found not guilty in 1995.

Foto: OJ Simpson, a former pro football star, was in prison from 2008-2017 for a botched robbery.sourceEthan Miller/AP

Sources: Avenatti, Business Insider


In 2007, he formed his own firm called Eagan Avenatti, where he has settled and won lucrative cases against the NFL and medical manufacturers Kimberly-Clark and Halyard Health, among others.

Foto: sourceYoutube

In 2013, Avenatti bought Tully’s Coffee, a Seattle-based coffee franchise that had just gone bankrupt.

Foto: sourceAP

In March 2018, a spokesman for Tully’s said Avenatti no longer owned the company, but still served as its general counsel. The company then abruptly closed all its stores.

Foto: sourceTed Warren/AP

Sources: Puget Sound Business Journal, Business Insider


Avenatti is also an auto-racing fanatic. He has participated in numerous races around the US and in Europe. “Life is meant to be lived; there are no dress rehearsals,” he told GW Law School magazine in 2010.

Foto: JMW Motorsport/GB Autosport’s Michael Avenatti, Kuba Giermaziak and Abdulaziz Al Faisal check in from scrutineering at Le Mans.sourceSportscar365/YouTube

Source: GW Law School


One of Avenatti’s former law school professors witnessed his ambition up close. “He is an adrenaline junkie,” Jonathan Turley, who taught Avenatti at GW Law, told The Washington Post. “I think he needs that adrenaline rush. He lives his life aggressively. In both litigation and in life he shows a certain aggressive style.”

Foto: The #81 Porsche that Avenatti co-owns is shown in action at night during the 12 Hours of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway on March 15, 2014 in Sebring, Florida.sourceBrian Cleary/Getty

Source: The Washington Post


Those words were proven true as Avenatti began making the rounds on cable news, giving interviews about Daniels’ case against Trump.

Foto: Stormy Daniels.sourceEthan Miller/Getty Images

During a particularly fiery exchange on CNN in March 2018, Avenatti excoriated Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal attorney, repeatedly calling him a “thug.”

Foto: Michael Avenatti appears on CNN’s “AC360” to discuss his client Stormy Daniels’ polygraph test.sourceCNN/YouTube

Source: CNN


In another theatrical performance, Avenatti held up a picture of Cohen on live TV, accusing him of “dodging questions” by refusing to talk to the media.

Foto: sourceYoutube

Source: CNN


In April 2018, Daniels appeared on “The View” to release a composite sketch of a man she said threatened her to keep quiet about her alleged affair with Trump. Avenatti said a $100,000 reward was waiting for correctly identifying the unknown man.

Foto: A sketch of the man Stormy Daniels says threatened her in a parking lot in 2011.sourceScreenshot/The View

Source: Business Insider


Avenatti has been a thorn in Trump’s side for years. While working at Greene Broillet & Wheeler, a law firm in California, Avenatti helped sue Trump for allegedly stealing the idea of his hit reality TV show on NBC, “The Apprentice.”

Foto: sourceRob Kim/Getty Images

Source: The Washington Post


Following criticism from conservatives, Avenatti released a statement in May 2018 saying that no political groups or “left wing conspiracy” were funding his legal battle against Trump and told critics to “get over it.”

Foto: Michael Avenatti.sourceTasos Katopodis/Getty Images

But he has reportedly sought financial help from Democratic donors in his legal fight against Trump. Avenatti has insisted that the money has come from a crowdfunding campaign and not from Democrats.

Foto: Michael Avenatti.sourceLucas Jackson/Reuters

Source: Business Insider


In a report titled “Project Sunlight” released in May 2018, Avenatti alleged that Cohen received $500,000 from a Russian oligarch shortly after the 2016 election, and claimed that money may have served as a reimbursement for the payment to Daniels. Cohen denied this.

Foto: Stormy Daniels enters federal court with her lawyer, Micheal Avenatti, in Manhattan on April 16, 2018.sourceREUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Source: Business Insider


In an interview with MSNBC in May 2018, Avenatti revealed that he was working with at least two other women who claimed they had signed NDAs with Trump similar to the one Daniels had signed with Trump for hush money before the election.

Foto: Michael Avenatti.sourceAP Photo/Mary Altaffer

Source: Business Insider


Avenatti has also taken an adversarial approach to Daniels’ former lawyer, Keith Davidson. He claims Davidson did not work in her best interest and instead worked closely with Cohen and Trump.

Foto: Michael Avenatti is set to speak at a Democratic dinner in Iowa in August.sourceShannon Stapleton/Reuters

Source: Business Insider


Avenatti claimed in May 2018 that Cohen was leaking to the press audio tapes seized in the FBI raids of Cohen’s apartment and office. He also argued that Cohen should have to turn over all conversations with Daniels’ former lawyer.

Foto: Michael Avenatti.sourceAP Photo/Mark Lennihan

Source: Business Insider/Business Insider


Avenatti attempted to appear in Cohen’s federal criminal case, but he eventually withdrew the motion in May.

Foto: Michael Avenatti.sourceSpencer Platt/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider/Business Insider


Also in May, Avenatti’s law firm was handed down a $10 million judgment to reimburse a former attorney at the firm who Avenatti failed to pay $2 million that month.

Foto: Michael Avenatti.sourceMario Tama/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider


Another person close to Trump who has drawn the criticism and ire of Avenatti has been Rudy Giuliani, who is now Trump’s attorney. The two attorneys have had a war of words.

Foto: Michael Avenatti on MSNBC watching Giuliani’s Fox News comments.sourceScreenshot/MSNBC

Source: Business Insider/Business Insider/Business Insider


Trump reportedly doesn’t pay “much attention” to Avenatti and thinks that Daniels’ lawyer is a “fool”, according to Giuliani.

Foto: President Donald Trump on Wednesday expressed skepticism over sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh.sourceBrian Snyder/Reuters

Source: Business Insider


Avenatti’s adversarial approach to Trump led many to speculate about his chances of running for president in 2020. Some on the left even called him a “hero” for taking on Trump with his own rhetoric.

Foto: Michael Avenatti.sourceSpencer Platt/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider


In an interview with Business Insider in June, Avenatti said he “can see why people might think” that he’s getting more involved in politics.

Foto: Michael Avenatti.sourceAP Photo/Richard Drew

Source: Business Insider


Avenatti was critical of Trump’s family-separation policy and said he was planning to represent at least 20 detained migrant mothers and children as clients in their legal cases to get their kids back.

Foto: Police and US Border Patrol watch over a group of Central American asylum seekers before taking them into custody on June 12, 2018 near McAllen, Texas.sourceJohn Moore/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider


Avenatti also said he had resources and whistleblowers deployed on the ground at the border providing leaked video, audio, and photos of what was going on inside the detention centers.

Foto: Michael Avenatti.sourceLucas Jackson/Reuters

Source: Business Insider/Business Insider/Business Insider


Avenatti tweeted in July that he would run for president as a Democrat if Trump seeks reelection in 2020. He also said that no candidate running on the Democratic side has a real shot at beating Trump in the election.

Foto: Michael Avenatti.sourceAP Photo/Richard Drew

Source: Business Insider


Avenatti then traveled to Iowa to give a speech at a Democratic dinner, increasing speculation that the attorney could run for president.

Foto: Michael Avenatti, Stormy Daniels’ attorney, talks to reporters outside of federal court in New York, Thursday, April 26, 2018.sourceAP

Source: Business Insider


While they were once public enemies, Avenatti and Cohen started working together after they ran into each other at a swanky Manhattan restaurant in July. Avenatti said he believed Cohen would help his case and tell the truth about Trump.

Foto: Michael Avenatti and Michael Cohen.sourceAP Images

Source: Business Insider


“I’m exploring a run for the presidency of the United States,” Avenatti said in August to The Des Moines Register. He also said the Democratic party “has yearned for a fighter.”

Foto: Stormy Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti comes out of federal court in Los Angeles Friday, April 20, 2018.sourceAP

Source: Business Insider


In August, Avenatti released a policy platform and said that he is “more bullish than ever” about running for president.

Foto: sourceScreenshot via ABC

Source: Business Insider


After Cohen pleaded guilty to eight federal crimes in August, Avenatti said he and Daniels were “vindicated.”

Foto: sourceTara Ziemba/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider


On September 23, Avenatti revealed he had “significant evidence” that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh took part in sexual misconduct in high school.

Foto: Brett Kavanaugh.sourceAP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Source: Business Insider


He then submitted a sworn declaration from a woman named Julie Swetnick who alleged she had seen Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge present at parties in the early 1980s where girls were “gang-raped.”

Foto: This undated photo of Julie Swetnick was released by her attorney Michael Avenatti via Twitter, Wednesday, Sept. 26. 2018. Swetnick is one of the women who has publicly accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct.sourceMichael Avenatti via AP

Source: Business Insider


But the allegations came under scrutiny when Swetnick contradicted and walked back key portions of her sworn declaration in an interview with NBC.

Foto: Julie Swetnick is the third woman to accuse Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct.sourceTwitter

Source: Business Insider


One woman who signed a sworn declaration supporting Swetnick’s allegations later walked back her story, saying she only “skimmed'” the sworn statement she signed and accused Avenatti of “twisting” her words.

Foto: Michael AvenattisourceAP Photo/Jeff Chiu

Source: Business Insider


Chuck Grassley, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, referred Avenatti and Swetnick to the FBI, accusing them of lying to Congress (a felony offense) and obstructing an investigation in sworn declarations submitted by Swetnick and another witness.

Foto: Attorney Michael Avenatti on Monday said the FBI investigation into sexual assault allegations is a “farce.”sourceMario Tama/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider


On October 15, a federal judge in California ruled against Avenatti and Daniels in their defamation lawsuit against Trump on First Amendment grounds, and ordered the two to pay Trump’s legal fees in the suit.

Foto: Stormy Daniels.sourceRainmaker Photo/MediaPunch /IPX via AP

Source: Business Insider


The decision prompted Trump to mock “3rd rate lawyer” Avenatti for “having no money,” and call Daniels “horseface” on Twitter. Avenatti decried Trump as a “moron” in response.

Foto: Stormy Daniels.sourceRingo H.W. Chiu/AP

Source: Business Insider


In November, Avenatti said he was investigating claims that Fox News host Tucker Carlson assaulted a “gay Latino immigrant” at a Charlottesville, Virginia country club.

Foto: sourceRich Polk/Getty Images for Politicon

Source: Business Insider


Carlson issued a lengthy statement in response, stating he had assaulted no one, but his son had thrown a glass of red wine on the man after he called Carlson’s 19-year-old daughter a “w—e” and a “c—.”

Foto: Tucker Carlson, host of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” poses for photos in a Fox News Channel studio on Thursday, March 2, 2107.sourceRichard Drew/AP

Source: Business Insider


Also in November, TMZ reported and the Los Angeles Police Department confirmed that Avenatti had been arrested on suspicion of felony domestic violence. Actress Mareli Minutti accused Avenatti of dragging her across the floor of his apartment by her arm.

Foto: Michael Avenatti speaks to the media outside the Los Angeles Police Department Pacific Division after being released from police custody following his arrest on a felony domestic violence charge.sourceAP Photo/Michael Owen Baker

Source: Business Insider


“I have never struck a woman, I never will strike a woman, I have been an advocate for women’s rights my entire career and I’m going to continue to be an advocate,” Avenatti said. “I am not going to be intimidated from stopping what I am doing.”

Foto: Michael Avenatti leaves the Los Angeles Police Department Pacific Division after posting bail for a felony domestic violence charge.sourceAP Photo/Michael Owen Baker

Source:Business Insider


Daniels said she planned to fire Avenatti as her lawyer if the domestic violence allegations against him turned out to be credible.

Foto: Porn actress Stormy Daniels, accompanied by her attorney, Michael Avenatti, right, talks to the media as she leaves federal court, Monday, April 16, 2018 in New York. A U.S. judge listened to more arguments about President Donald Trump’s extraordinary request that he be allowed to review records seized from his lawyer, Michael Cohen, office as part of a criminal investigation before they are examined by prosecutors.sourceMary Altaffer/AP

Source: Business Insider


“We should all reserve judgement until the investigation — an investigation Michael has said he welcomes — is complete, and that’s what I’m going to do,” Daniels added.

Foto: Stormy Daniels appears on “Saturday Night Live” May 5, 2018.sourceWill Heath/NBC via AP

Source: Business Insider


The Los Angeles district attorney’s office ultimately declined to press charges against Avenatti, referring the allegations to the LA city attorney for a possible misdemeanor charge.

Foto: Michael AvenattisourceAP Photo/Jeff Chiu

Source: Business Insider


In late November, Daniels told The Daily Beast that Avenatti had filed his unsuccessful defamation lawsuit against Trump on her behalf “without my approval” and “against my wishes.”

Foto: In this Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018, file photo, adult film actress Stormy Daniels arrives for the opening of the adult entertainment fair “Venus,” in Berlin.sourceAssociated Press/Marcus Schreiber

Source: Business Insider


On December 4, Avenatti announced he would not be running for president in 2020.

Foto: sourceMichael Owen Baker/AP

Source: Business Insider


After federal prosecutors recommended Cohen receive “substantial” prison time in December, Avenatti took a victory lap, saying he was “happy to see Michael Cohen is in a lot of trouble.”

Foto: Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former lawyer, leaves federal court after his sentencing in New York, Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018.sourceAssociated Press/Craig Ruttle

Avenatti said in a statement:

“Over the weeks and months that followed our early March filing, we endured death threats, insults, and numerous attacks on our character, which have continued to this day. We sat and listened while many ‘expert pundits’ criticized our approach, including our constant media push, failing to recognize that we were playing the ‘long game’ and had a strategy.

“Today is yet more evidence that our efforts have brought us closer toward realizing our goal. But we are not done. To our supporters – THANK YOU! To the others – better luck next time.”


Also in December, a federal judge in California ordered Daniels to pay Trump $293,000 in attorney fees and $1,000 in sanctions for filing a defamation lawsuit against the president.

Foto: Stormy Daniels.sourceDrew Angerer/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider


In another case, a grand jury convened in Chicago in February to evaluate potential sexual misconduct charges against R. Kelly, after Avenatti presented a tape to state attorneys that he alleged shows Kelly engaging in sex acts with a girl who says she was 14 years old at the time.

Foto: R. Kelly performs at the 18th Annual Soul Train Awards in 2004sourceGetty Images Entertainment/Kevin Winter

Kelly is facing 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse in connection to three underage girls and one adult woman. He has denied any wrongdoing and is pleading not guilty.


In March, Avenatti faced another setback in Daniels’ cases against Trump when a federal judge tossed out their lawsuit aiming to break the NDA she signed. But Trump’s lawyers said they wouldn’t sue her for breaking it, so Avenatti declared victory in the case.

Foto: Stormy Daniels attends the 2019 Adult Video News Awards in Las Vegas, Nevada, in January 2019.sourceGabe Ginsberg/Getty Image

Source: Business Insider


A few days later, Daniels announced she had a new lawyer. Avenatti responded cryptically in a tweet, saying he he informed her “in writing” on February 19 that he was “terminating…legal representation of her for various reasons that we cannot disclose publicly due to attorney-client privilege.”

Foto: Stormy Daniels autographs a photo during a fan meet and greet in Hollywood in May 2018.sourceTara Ziemba/Getty Images

“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,” Avenatti added, saying he wishes Daniels “the best.”


On March 25, New York federal prosecutors charged Avenatti with attempting to extort more than $20 million from Nike, alleging he tried to get the money by “threatening to use his ability to garner publicity to inflict substantial financial & reputational harm on the company if his demands were not met.”

Foto: In this Friday, July 27, 2018 file photo, Michael Avenatti talks to the media during a news conference in front of the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Los Angeles.sourceAssociated Press