Avenatti lawyer to put Stormy Daniels' credibility on trial

The attorney for Michael Avenatti says he plans to make the credibility of porn star Stormy Daniels the central issue when his client faces trial on charges he cheated her of book deal proceeds

NEW YORK -- The credibility of porn star Stormy Daniels will be the central issue when Michael Avenatti goes on trial in April on charges that he cheated her of $300,000 from a book deal, his attorney said Tuesday.

Lawyer Tom Warren spoke outside court after his client, his feet and hands shackled, shuffled from a Manhattan courtroom with federal marshals to an elevator on his way back to a federal lockup next door to the courthouse.

He said he expects the trial to occur, although he added that it's his responsibility to listen to any plea deal offerings by prosecutors. He wouldn't say if any had occurred.

“I wouldn't pass on the opportunity to cross examine Stormy Daniels in a million years,” Warren said, saying he believes she has made conflicting statements.

Warren said a jury would learn how much Daniels owed Avenatti “for all the legal work he did for her” while she was challenging President Donald Trump over a hush money payment made to her after she alleged that she had an affair with Trump before he ran for president.

During that time, Avenatti, a California attorney, appeared frequently on cable television programs, gaining a measure of fame and drawing the ire of Trump.

“It isn't a documents case really,” Warren said. “It's about the credibility of Stormy Daniels.”

Clark Brewster, a lawyer for Daniels, said the deal between Avenatti and Daniels called for Avenatti to be paid $1 and whatever he could get from a crowdfunding drive, which generated about $600,000.

He said the written agreement said any additional fees would be described in separate deals, but there were none.

“He can try to obscure and smear and make up testimony as he goes along, but the upshot is that the agreement was very simple,” Brewster said.

Warren spoke after U.S. District Judge Jesse M. Furman confirmed that the trial will begin on April 21, as planned, even after a judge who had earlier presided over the case died.

Avenatti, 49, was recently convicted of trying to extort up to $25 million from sportswear giant Nike. His court appearance Tuesday was his first since he was convicted at the Nike trial.

Avenatti is also facing charges in Los Angeles federal court that allege he cheated clients and others of millions of dollars. He has denied wronging, and the trial is scheduled to start in May.