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Cohen Attorneys Ask Court to Deny Avenatti Permission to Be in Litigation Over Cohen's Records
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15 May 2018 10:42 PM EST

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Michael Avenatti (Image source: (Screenshot)


Michael Avenatti has been hitting the press circuit, appearing on talk shows and publishing interesting tidbits and photos about Michael Cohen. But it may be costing him. In his effort to expose what's going on, Cohen's attorneys have asked a judge to deny Avenatti permission to be a part of the litigation regarding the records that were seized from their client's home, office, and other locations.

Cohen's attorneys can't be blamed for making that request. Avenatti has caused some real damage this past week publicizing that Cohen accepted huge donations from big corporations in exchange for information on his client, Donald Trump. Additionally, he tweeted pictures showing Cohen with a Qatari businessman rumored to be bribing Washington politicians.

And all this is while Trump is smack dab in the middle of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, his attorney Cohen is facing charges of bank fraud and campaign finance violations, and Avenatti's client, Stormy Daniels (sometimes referred to by her real name of Stephanie Clifford), is suing to get out of a non-disclosure agreement that Cohen brokered on behalf of Trump.

It's not looking good for Cohen, and Avenatti appears to have made it worse. Cohen's attorneys are calling Avenatti's disclosure of information outrageous as well as a reckless act that invades the privacy of their client, linking him to some payments which he wasn't involved in.

The attorneys are suggesting Avenatti could have broken the law and are asking a federal judge in New York to deny him permission to be a part of the litigation over the evidence taken from the raid on Cohen's various locations. It's a wise move, but also obvious, showing that they fear Avenatti will publicize whatever turned up in the raid.

Avenatti is of course fighting to still be included. "Mr. Avenatti is clearly protected by First Amendment rights of free speech to publish information on matters that, without serious dispute, are of the utmost public concern," he wrote in a brief that was submitted to U.S. District Court Judge Kimba Wood.

"In fact, in less than 48 hours after it was published, more than 99 percent of the payments to Mr. Cohen listed in the report were proven accurate either by other reporting or by the entities themselves that made the payments."

This also serves as an acknowledgement that at least 1% of what Avenatti reported wasn't true. A Canadian by the name of Michael Cohen has said some of the money transfers involved him. 

Yet, as the filing also pointed out, significant developments were triggered by Avenatti's information, as AT&T admitted hiring Cohen was a mistake, and a senior executive resigned. 

Additionally, the Treasury Department is investigating internally whether Avenatti's information was leaked illegally. But Politico reports that "it is typically lawful to publish information received from someone else, even if that person may not have had the authority to release it or broke the law by doing so."

Avenatti feels his client, Daniels, has an interest in the information discovered in Cohen's records, as they not only discuss her but include conversations with her former attorney, Keith Davidson. Avenatti believes Davidson may have been too close to Cohen to have properly represented Daniels' best interests.

"That Mr. Cohen may be dismayed that these damaging revelations have come to light and have been proven true does not come remotely close to justifying a denial of Mr. Avenatti's right to appear before this Court," Avenatti continued in the brief.

"As discussed in her motion to intervene, Ms. Clifford has very important and legitimate interests in protecting her records," he added. "She should not be denied counsel from representing and advancing those interests based on Mr. Cohen's embarrassment resulting from discomforting information being made public."

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