May 15, 2018, 9:17 PM ET

Michael Cohen battles Stormy Daniels' lawyer over publishing the former Trump attorney’s alleged confidential banking information

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President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen and the publicity-savvy lawyer Michael Avenatti, who represents adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, are battling over whether Avenatti had the right to publish Cohen’s alleged confidential banking information last week.

Cohen asked a New York federal judge to shut Avenatti out of his court case because of the publication. On Tuesday, Avenatti shot back that he had a First Amendment right to publish information “of the utmost public concern,” according to court filings.

In a letter to Judge Kimba Wood on May 9, Cohen’s attorney Stephen Ryan asked Wood to deny Avenatti’s application for pro hac vice admission -- which is a request for a lawyer to appear in court despite being licensed in a different state -- because “Avenatti is apparently in possession of and has published information from some of Mr. Cohen’s actual bank records” that he has “no lawful basis to possess.”

Cohen’s attorneys further contended that Avenatti “has made numerous incorrect statements to the public in an apparent attempt to prejudice and discredit Mr. Cohen” in the case.

PHOTO: Attorney for Stormy Daniels, Michael Avenatti walks outside the U.S. Courthouse in New York, April 26, 2018.Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images, file
Attorney for Stormy Daniels, Michael Avenatti walks outside the U.S. Courthouse in New York, April 26, 2018.

Cohen’s lawyers asked that if Avenatti wishes to enter the case, he must first explain to the court how he came to possess and release the records.

Cohen’s letter to the judge asserted that Avenatti’s document contains a “number of blatantly incorrect statements,” citing an example of a payment to an account in Toronto detailed in Avenatti’s documents that actually refers to a Michael Cohen who is a Canadian citizen; and another payment from a Kenyan bank that has also apparently identified the wrong Michael Cohen.

“Mr. Avenatti’s conduct in somehow obtaining random bank records and publishing them without proper concern for their accuracy is extremely troubling for the parties, in this case, the court, and the public,” according to Cohen’s filing.

Cohen admitted that some of the leaked information was correct, such as payments made to Cohen by business clients AT&T and Novartis. Nevertheless, Cohen claimed that Avenatti has “deliberately distorted information…for the purpose of creating a toxic mix of misinformation.”

Avenatti on Tuesday argued in court papers that he has “First Amendment rights of free speech to publish information on matters that, without serious dispute, are of the utmost public concern.”

PHOTO: Michael Cohen, former personal attorney for U.S. President Donald Trump, exits the Loews Regency Hotel, May 11, 2018 in New York City.Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Michael Cohen, former personal attorney for U.S. President Donald Trump, exits the Loews Regency Hotel, May 11, 2018 in New York City.

Also, laws protecting bank privacy apply to the financial institutions and government entities that hold that information, and not to third parties like him, Avenatti argued.

Avenatti did not reveal how he obtained the confidential records, but said he was in his rights to publish them.

Finally, Avenatti said that almost all the information he made public was accurate.

“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,” Avenatti wrote.

Avenatti is a member of the California bar and has asked to intervene in the Cohen matter because some of the materials seized from Cohen in April relate to Cohen’s hush payment to Daniels after the actress claimed she had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006.

News - Michael Cohen battles Stormy Daniels' lawyer over publishing the former Trump attorney’s alleged confidential banking information

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  • Mary

    QUESTIONS:
    A. If someone were given the names, accounts, and amounts of the people who are donating to / paying for the Stormy Daniels case [and in turn paying Michael Avenatti] could that someone legally release the information to the media?

    B. Can the names, accounts, and amounts of those who have contributed financially to the case and are paying Michael Avenatti be sought and obtained by Michael Cohen's attorney or Trump’s attorney in discovery? I would think a transaction log exist with amounts, names, and accounts even if they are listed as anonymous on the site. Haven't they in effect injected themselves into the case by funding it?

    C. Could they then see if multiple amounts are being contributed from the same accounts, sources, by the same persons or entity. Might they find some journalist?, reporters?, government officials?, news organizations?

  • JLW

    My bank records better darn well be confidential....and so should EVERYONE'S. Whether or not the information contained in them is relevant, important, etc. is NOT the point. Mr. Avenatti had NO business even having these records and he needs to explain how he had them in his possession. PERIOD!

  • AngeredVoter

    Nevertheless, Cohen claimed that Avenatti has “deliberately distorted information…for the purpose of creating a toxic mix of misinformation.”
    --------------
    Karma kinda sucks.

  • P.A.Brenner

    Big trouble.

  • Jim D.

    Cohen allegedly said he would take a bullet for Trump, which is the type of loyalty Trump seems to demand. And Cohen was true to his word. He said he made the $130,000 payment to Stormy without being reimbursed by Trump. And it may have worked if the feds didn't get access to records indicating otherwise. Which is why Giuliani had to say the things he did. The lesson for all present and future Trump acolytes who are also willing to take a bullet for Trump. Do a better job of covering your tracks. You owe Trump that much.

  • Richard Blumenthal

    Shouldn't the FBI be investigating who broke Federal law by giving the confidential bank records to Avennati?

  • Kirby

    I believe that this is only the SECOND article I've read on this general subject, which includes dozens of articles over the last few months, which did not contain the words "...whose real name is Stephanie Clifford...". Are reporters FINALLY starting to realize that after months of this we probably already know Daniels' real name or just don't care? Let's hope so. I am seriously so sick of reading that exact phrase over and over and over again.

  • Dave

    It is fun to watch Michael Cohen squirm and it is even funnier to know that Donnie is probably wetting himself several times a day wondering when he will be forced to resign. His resignation will be the best day in American history. Of course Pence is pretty scary as well. I was recently a moderate Republican but not now. The extreme right wingers have destroyed to party to the point of no return.

  • Truthful Opinion

    You mean a lawyer for a porn star is out maneuvering a president and billionaire businessmans lawyer. Priceless!!

  • UnaMas85

    Cohen is the loose thread that we all been waiting for.

  • Calibandawg

    Lemme see here. Cohen versus Avenatti... Hmmm. Who would I pick in a legal fight? Mr. Cohen better hope his lawyer is better than he is.

  • Washingtononfire

    Cohen's expression and demeanor have changed dramatically. No more loud mouth, I'll break your legs kind of attitude. What happened?

  • Two Cents

    Michael Cohen looks like someone floundering in the water and going down for the third time .....
    except it ain't water but corruption that he is drowning in.

  • inonepeice

    “Avenatti is apparently in possession of and has published information from some of Mr. Cohen’s actual bank records” that he has “no lawful basis to possess.”
    ++++++++++++
    If I don't shred my bank statements and throw them out anybody could grab it and it would be my fault.

  • Blkhawksgrl

    Disagree with publicly publishing peoples bank records.... no matter what the case is...

  • Captain Shark

    OK, this is related to me by a friend, ok? It wasn't me. I swear, it wasn't. A friend told me this.

    Anyway, I, excuse me, a friend, was watching this porn video last night and there was an ad at the beginning of it with Stormy Daniels, naked as a jaybird, talking about how you've probably seen her in the news lately.

  • Blue Wave

    By the time all of this is over, the entire country will be doused from all this mud-slinging.

  • Jake the real Jake

    Stormy & her lawyer tougher to deal with than little rocket man, who would've thought trumpy. Ha!

  • Motoboto Haritoto

    Michael Cohen should spring for a real lawyer The one he has is an idiot.

  • Wrecking Ball

    I think 99% accuracy is pretty conclusive. Cohen's lawyers are going out on a limb with this one. All they have to go on are very, very weak limbs.

  • cptUSAG

    A Porn Star and her attorney have done what nobody else in the country has been able to accomplish.

    They have shut Trump up and have opened the door to even more charges about the Trump crime family

  • SpankyHamm, LLC

    If they offered Avenatti and Daniels $5 million today, do you think they go away?

  • hucky01

    With Russia's penchant for dealing with people that cause them trouble, I can't help but wonder if Cohen will make it to his trials! Beware of people carrying umbrellas on a clear blue sky day!

  • cptUSAG

    The Judge who Republicans said would throw out Mueller's case against Manafort just issued her ruling.

    The case will go on-Manafort is finished

  • Two Cents

    Cohen is as bent as the River Raisin.

  • Badger Land

    That picture of Cohen represents a guy who was just told he's facing as many state charges as he is federal charges so a presidential pardon won't help....

  • AlexaGuyer

    Whatever happened to that smirking guy who was smoking cigars and laughing with his buddies on the street in NYC when the Stormy news broke? He seems to be singing a different tune in this picture. Tick tock, Mikey, your time is running out.

  • duckkdownn

    That photo of Cohen just screams, "Boss, I'd take a bullet for you".

  • Holly II

    That is the visual representation of the word "depression."