Michael Avenatti Responds To Guilty Plea From Trump's Former Attorney Michael Cohen

Aug 21, 2018
Originally published on August 21, 2018 8:50 pm
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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Now we're going to get reaction to what unfolded today in Manhattan when Michael Cohen, President Trump's former personal lawyer and fixer, pleaded guilty to eight charges, including campaign finance violations. Cohen said he arranged at the direction of a candidate for office payments of hush money to two women before the 2016 election. He also didn't name the women, but the details match up with what we've heard over time from former Playboy model Karen McDougal and porn star Stephanie Clifford also known as Stormy Daniels. Michael Avenatti is her attorney, and he's on the line with us now. Welcome to the program.

MICHAEL AVENATTI: Thanks for having me.

CORNISH: As we said, the women are not named, but do you believe this is your client being referred to?

AVENATTI: Yes, count eight relates to my client, Ms. Daniels.

CORNISH: You tweeted today that the developments of the day will permit you to have the stay lifted in your civil case and also allow you to proceed with a expedited deposition of the president under oath. Is that your next step?

AVENATTI: It is. We have a pending motion to take the deposition of the president. The case has been stayed over our objection and the request of Michael Cohen's counsel. Now that he has pled guilty, we would expect that stay to be lifted on September 10. And it is our intention to move forthwith towards getting a deposition with the president and Michael Cohen under oath.

CORNISH: What do you want to expose in that deposition of a sitting president?

AVENATTI: We want to expose the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, that we want the American people to have all of the facts and the evidence about what went on here between Michael Cohen and Donald Trump. We believe that the American people deserve to know what happened, when it happened, how it happened, what the president knew about it, what he did about it and how he covered it up.

CORNISH: You also tweeted at President Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani this afternoon, quote, "buckle up, buttercup. You and your client completely misplayed this." In what way do you believe they misplayed the situation?

AVENATTI: Well, I don't think your radio show is long enough for me to list all the ways that they've misplayed this, but as a general proposition, you know, this president has demanded a hundred percent loyalty from those around him, and yet he shows loyalty to no one with the exception of Vladimir Putin. That was a critical mistake. He should have shown loyalty to Michael Cohen. He should have kept him in the tent. He did not do so. He put him on an island, not to mix metaphors. And now he's going to pay a very steep price.

Furthermore, Rudy Giuliani - every time he goes on television, I have the remarks that he's the best attorney that works on our case for us. I mean, he is an absolute walking disaster. He's a train wreck of an attorney. He's not doing himself and especially his client any favors.

CORNISH: At this point, what is the goal for your client?

AVENATTI: Well, we have the same goals that we've always had, which is, first of all, we want the NDA absolutely invalidated for the reasons that we state in our complaint, including...

CORNISH: And this is the nondisclosure agreement that she reportedly signed.

AVENATTI: That's correct. We want the nondisclosure agreement invalidated because it was against public policy and in violation of campaign finance law, among other reasons. We want a specific finding from the court that that is why it's invalidated. We want Michael Cohen to be ordered to pay damages associated with his defamation of my client whereby he effectively called her a liar. And we want Donald Trump to have to pay damages associated with his defamation of my client where he calls into question her credibility relating to the threat that was made against her in the Las Vegas parking lot in 2011.

CORNISH: And can you tell us what the reaction was today from Stephanie Clifford?

AVENATTI: She was elated. She feels absolutely vindicated. She feels like we have both been vindicated. And she was very anxious to hear from all of the pundits and others who have been telling us over the last five to six months that this case wasn't going to be successful and that it wasn't going to resolve to anything and all of the other nonsense that we've heard. She's anxious to hear from those folks, but I had to explain to her that the likelihood is that we won't hear anything (unintelligible).

CORNISH: Were you expecting what happened today?

AVENATTI: I was expecting it. It wasn't a question of if it was going to happen. It was only a question of when.

CORNISH: Why is that? What about Michael Cohen was sending you the signal that he would be interested in a plea deal?

AVENATTI: Well, I can't get into the details relating to the information that I have and my communications that I have with law enforcement and others. But I fully anticipated this. I predicted the first week of April before there was any execution of any search warrant anywhere that too much faith and confidence have been put on Michael Cohen by the president and that ultimately that was going to prove to be very problematic for him because I believed that ultimately Michael Cohen would be charged criminally and would flip on the president. That's exactly what has happened now some four or five months later.

CORNISH: You're now considering a presidential run yourself for 2020. You've been speaking to people across the country about that. Are those political aspirations taking away from the case of your client, from the case of Stormy Daniels?

AVENATTI: No, absolutely not. As evidenced by today's events, we've done a remarkable job representing Stormy Daniels. She's done a remarkable job relating to her intelligence and fortitude and search for the truth. There's been absolutely no taking away from her case. We're continuing to do extremely well in her case together, and we're going to continue to do so.

CORNISH: You've also tweeted that one way or another, you'd end this presidency. Is that the goal here?

AVENATTI: Well, the goal number one is to get to the truth and to get to the facts and the evidence. And I think that alone is going to end this presidency. But let me be clear about something. Donald Trump is either going to resign. He's going to be removed from office by impeachment, or I'm going to beat him in 2020. But one way or the other, he's not going to serve a second term.

CORNISH: Michael Avenatti is the attorney for Stephanie Clifford. She's also known as Stormy Daniels. Thank you for speaking with ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

AVENATTI: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.