Avenatti blames Trump for his legal morass, and casts himself as 'Icarus'
Michael Avenatti is back in business, not practicing law of course, but wooing the press, now that he's been charged with multiple felonies for defrauding clients, running out on his tax tab, and attempting to shake down a major corporation for a big dollar payout. He's got a big spread in Vanity Fair, comparing himself to Icarus, the classic figure of Greek mythology who flew too close to the sun and fell into the sea, tragic, as in all tragedy, only because he was once great.
No not exactly. Who's he blaming for this comeuppance? Not himself, of course. According to Vanity Fair, the sun was Trump.
“I never imagined that this case would take on the magnitude that it did and would have thrust me into the spotlight and into the national spotlight like it did,” he said. “I have said many, many times over the last year, this is either going to end really, really well, or really, really badly. I am most fearful of the fact that the rate of descent is greater than the rate of ascent. Some would argue at this point that I flew too close to the sun. As I sit here today, yes, absolutely, I know I did. No question. Icarus.”
Gack. This is delusions of grandeur. So he tried to take on Trump in an epic clash ... and met his tragic downfall?
Nope, he got his downfall based on his bad habit of thumbing his nose at the law, something that puts all sorts of self-regarding jerks who break the law into the slammer. In his case, he's looking at 400 years. The sun that melted his wings wasn't Trump, it was his own misdeeds, merely backlit by the secondary sun of media publicity.
It sure as heck wasn't Trump who made Avenatti help himself to that wheelchair-bound client's judgment money he won for him and then put it into one of his own accounts instead, which is one of the things he's now under legal scrutiny for.
And no, it wasn't Trump who made him bankrupt a Seattle coffee company by diverting its paid payroll taxes taken out and leaving it onto the employees.
Trump didn't even have anything to do with Avenatti's pocketing of the money of his other mediagenic client, porn "star" Stormy Daniels, for her bookings, a deed so apparently dishonest it makes one actually sympathize with Daniels.
Did Trump make Avenatti wheel out a client with a phony, shifting, dirty story about Bret Kavanaugh at his Senate confirmation hearings?
Did Trump make Avenatti miss his rent payments or get into that beating altercation with his Estonian girlfrield in Century City?
Was it Trump who made him try to shake down Nike for a multi-million-dollar payout? It wasn't even Trump who called the cops on him. It was Nike's lefty corporate lawyers.
But because he had some thing against Trump, he was a man on Trump-quest mission, somehow the charges against him are merit-less, and the whole thing is politicized.
“When I met with Stormy, I saw an avenue by which I could do collateral damage to Donald Trump and those around him for what appeared to me to be illegal conduct and rigging a presidential election. I saw that as an opportunity to do something that was just, that was right, and to basically go all in.”
Yet not one of the things he did had anything to do with Trump, or with lawmen gathering on his tail. They put bad lawyers in jail all the time, publicity or not. He's no different.
The press has always been his vehicle and now that he's under indictment in both Los Angeles and New York and even his lawyers are telling him to stay off CNN, he's still utilizing his access to the press to make his case by insisting that Trump Did It.
With Vanity Fair printing passages like this, still puffing him as someone important and tragic, it's not surprising.
For Avenatti, it was always about the edge, getting as close to it as he’d let himself. That’s why he raced cars and went into trial law and probably why he allegedly thought he could get away with not paying taxes and maneuvering client money around, as prosecutors outlined. “Before every closing argument I’ve ever given, right before I get into it, I’ve gone into the bathroom to look at myself in the mirror and taken myself back to a particular moment of growing up. The same moment. Because I’ve been nervous or any time when I’m fearful or nervous, I take myself back to that moment.”
Would they really print this kind of passage about some no-name crook in a place like Cincinnati who stiffed his clients and ran out on his tax tab? Based on the hard facts, Avenatti is one of these, the worst of the worst of the legal profession, a lawyer who disgust other lawyers, such as the respected attorney Robert Barnes and a man whose pattern of transgressions began early.
VF seems to be going along with his argument that the publicity he got on Trump drew scrutiny to his deeds, and they would never have been noticed otherwise. The writer makes the case that he had things to hide, implying that smart crooks, particularly the white collar ones, keep their deeds in the dark and know enough to hide like cockroaches to keep legal scrutiny at bay. Well perhaps.
But even this is baloney given the nature of what he's lately been doing. Avenatti most recent charge has been that he was trying to shake down Nike and this happened well after he got his name in the news for his CNN appearances representing Stormy Daniels and Julie Swetnick. He seemed to think his CNN fame enabled him to do anything he liked.
What he's doing with the press as he tries to deflect attention to Trump and portray himself as a political prisoner is actually the opposite of what he claims. Utilizing the puffy press, he's trying to convey that he's too big to fail. He's the Hillary Clinton of sleazy trial lawyers, not a guy who gets put in the slammer for defrauding clients and the IRS but someone who's sympathic - and therefore should be let off, based on the Trump hate of the people he's appealing to. Hate Trump and get transformed into Icarus.
Thank goodness there are cooler heads in the legal and law enforcement community who aren't as impressed with his CNN appearances as he himself is. Being on TV for blaming Trump doesn't give anyone a license to do the kinds of lawyer things Avenatti did. Outside the fawning press, there is still a normal world out there, bad people get called to account, and there's nothing tragic about it.
Image credit: Richard Dole / Michael Avenatti, via Wikimedia Commons, with modification by Monica Showalter // CC BY-SA 2.5