Michael Avenatti in First Interview Since Federal Charges: "Of Course I'm Nervous"
During the interview, the lawyer expressed concern for himself, his family and friends, but emphasized "most people are sticking by me."
Attorney Michael Avenatti spoke with CBS News' Jericka Duncan in his first interview since being arrested in New York on federal charges of extortion and bank fraud related to Nike.
Raising the point that Avenatti is facing up to the rest of his life in prison, Duncan asked Stormy Daniels' former lawyer if he's nervous. "Of course I'm nervous," answered Avenatti. "Are you scared, are you concerned?" the journalist pressed. "Tell us, as someone who has a history of representing people and now you're on the other side facing serious charges."
"I feel terrible for my family," Avenatti continued. "I feel bad for my friends. Most people are sticking by me, they believe in me, they know what I'm all about, so I've been very fortunate in that regard. But sure, I'm nervous, I'm scared, I'm all those things. And if I wasn't, it wouldn't make a lot of sense."
The charges against Avenatti include conspiracy to transmit interstate communications with the intent to extort, conspiracy to commit extortion and transmission of interstate communication with intent to extort. He was released on a $300,000 bond earlier this week and has continued to maintain his innocence.
Avenatti attempted to explain his side of the situation to Duncan — and detailed Nike's alleged misconduct that he says he witnessed during his involvement with the sports giant. "The truth is, for years, Nike and its executives have been funneling payments to amateur players, high school players and to their handlers and to their family members in an effort to get them to go to colleges that were 'Nike' colleges," said Avenatti. "And ultimately, hopefully, to the NBA so they could sign a shoe deal with Nike."
He added: "The way this has been framed is not accurate. It's just not accurate. And, in fact, from the very first moment that we had any meeting with Nike, we made it clear that under no circumstances would we participate in anything that did not require full disclosure to investigators and the federal government."
Avenatti assured that "there's going to be a lot of evidence." He continued, "There's going to be a lot of facts that are going to come to light."
The attorney also told Duncan that the definition of "extortion" is up for interpretation. "If what they allege constitutes extortion, you're going to have to go around and arrest tens of thousands of lawyers in this country for extortion," said Avenatti. "This was not extortion. People make threats all the time in connection with trying to settle a case. It was attempting to settle and resolve a dispute on behalf of a client and make sure that the right thing was done."
Avenatti on Tuesday took to Twitter to express his gratitude for those who have supported him thus far. "I want to thank all of my supporters for your kind words and support today. It means a lot to me. I am anxious for people to see what really happened. We never attempted to extort Nike and when the evidence is disclosed, the public will learn the truth about Nike's crime and coverup."
Watch Avenatti's interview with CBS News in the clips below.
March 27, 6:36 a.m. Updated with more quotes from Avenatti's interview with CBS News.