10:17pm PT by Patrick Shanley
Stormy Daniels Attorney Unveils New Evidence in Trump Case
Stormy Daniels' attorney, Michael Avenatti, joined Stephen Colbert on the Late Show Wednesday night to discuss his client's current lawsuit against President Donald Trump.
Daniels is currently suing Trump for defamation in federal court in New York. At issue is a tweet Trump made in which he dismissed a composite sketch that Daniels says depicted a man who threatened her in 2011 to stay quiet about her alleged sexual encounter with Trump in 2006.
The adult film actress, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, is also suing to be released from a non-disclosure deal she agreed to days before the 2016 election in exchange for $130,000. The payment was made by the president's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen. Trump has denied knowledge of the payment, although his lawyer Rudy Giuliani claimed the president repaid Cohen the $130,000 on a television appearance on Wednesday.
When asked about the payment by Colbert, Avenatti said, “It’s absurd to suggest that an attorney would advance $130,000 for somebody from a personal home equity loan, never tell them about it — not just anyone, but a billionaire running for president — never seek reimbursement … it's just absurd. No one believes that.”
When Colbert asked whether Cohen was just a terrible attorney, Avenatti responded, “I agree he’s a terrible attorney, but he’s not that stupid."
Avenatti showed off a new piece of evidence on Colbert’s show: An incoming wire receipt from Daniels' prior lawyer showing where the $130,000 payment came from. The payment originated at a First Republic bank in San Francisco instead of the bank's New York branch. That showed, Avenatti said, that California attorney general Xavier Becerra could have jurisdiction if there were any criminal wrongdoing in the case. If California were to bring charges, the lawyer added, Trump could not pardon Michael Cohen from those charges.
"That could take his get-out-of-jail-free card," Colbert said.
Avenatti said ultimately, even if Trump did pardon Cohen, it could not protect the lawyer from state charges in New York and California.
Avenatti then doubled down on his speculation, repeated often in his media appearances, that the president would not serve out his term. "I don't think the president is going to be able to stand the heat on his own," Avenatti said.