Monday, December 17, 2018

Michael Avenatti Has Fallen Back to Earth

Remember this guy?  Michael Avenatti, the man who fell to Earth.

In Greek mythology, there is a character named Icarus.  Icarus was the son of the master craftsman Daedalus.  Daedalus and Icarus were imprisoned on the island of Crete.  

To escape, Daedalus made each of them a pair of wings from feathers and wax.  Before they left, Daedalus cautioned his son about the trait of hubris, which is to say foolish pride combined with dangerous overconfidence.

Specifically, he told Icarus, "Don't fly too close to the sun.  It'll melt the wax."

Of course, the ancient Greeks lived a long time ago, and people thought the sun was right there.  They were wrong about the distance, but they were right about the fact that the sun is hot.  Very, very hot.  

If you get too close, it'll burn you.  And it will melt the wax right off your wings.  

But Icarus, giddy with the excitement of flying, flew right up next to the sun.  The wax melted, and he fell all the way back down, into the sea, where he drowned. 

The Flight of Icarus, by Jacob Peter Gowy, circa 1635

A Thrillseeker

Michael Avenatti has been around the block a few times.  He has spent his long legal career embroiled in high profile lawsuits, often with a lot of money on the line.  

He has represented the likes of Glenn Frey and Don Henley of the Eagles, and he has sued the National Football League and the producers of the TV show The Apprentice, including Donald Trump.

He has also gone bankrupt numerous times, and has been sued himself at least 50 times for things like breach of contract and failure to pay vendors.  

At one point, a $28,700 lawsuit by a private investigator who hadn't been paid (and who turned out not to be a private investigator) was enough to force Avenatti into bankruptcy.  Clearly, Avenatti likes to live close to the edge.

Also, he's a professional race car driver.

Stormy Daniels and Michael Avenatti in happier times.

Avenatti came roaring into public awareness in January of 2018, not quite one year ago.  

He was the hard-charging lawyer for Stormy Daniels, a porn star who appears to have had at least one sexual encounter with the married Donald Trump, in Nevada, during July of 2006.  

This would probably be no big deal, except that Trump paid Daniels $130,000 during the run up to the 2016 presidential election to keep her from talking about it in the media. 

Under American election law, that payment, if it took place (and it certainly appears to have done so), constitutes an illegal campaign contribution, which is a crime.    

A Hero for Our Times

It's not clear how Avenatti came to be the lawyer for Stormy Daniels.  He does have long-term ties to the Democratic Party, and worked for years for Rahm Emanuel, Obama's former chief-of-staff.  So that may have had something to do with it.

Regardless, Avenatti appeared as the knight protector of the woman scorned, and for a long while, he seemed to run circles around his enemies.  Despite initial denials of the affair, Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen (now on his way to prison) was forced to admit he had paid Daniels the money.

The admission left Trump exposed to serious legal jeopardy.  Avenatti sparred with Trump and his legal team through the winter, spring and then into the summer.  He became a darling of the left, and of anti-Trump people everywhere.

“He’s in, right?  He’s running for president and I think it’s good he’s here and I think that all the other candidates should also be showing support,” said Jane Kleeb, the chairwoman of the Nebraska Democratic Party.  And she wasn't the only one hoping he would throw his hat in the ring.  

Full disclosure:  I like Michael Avenatti.  I like Stormy Daniels (I kind of wish she hadn't had sex with Trump, but that's up to her).  I especially liked when Trump backer Rudy Giuliani cast aspersions on Stormy's morals, and Avenatti threatened to release details of Giuliani's internet habits. 

Avenatti was fun to watch.  But by August, he announced that he was indeed running for president in 2020.  Who better to beat Trump than the man who had been beating him with a stick all year?

Bad.  Idea.  

How bad?  Very bad.  Up until then, Avenatti was a very entertaining clown in a circus sideshow.  But then he decided he was worthy of the Big Top... 

Michael Avenatti's gonna git ya!  Or maybe not.

A Modern Icarus

The wings started melting off almost immediately.

In September, during the Supreme court nomination hearings of Brett Kavanaugh, the big news was Christine Blaisey-Ford's allegation that a drunken Kavanaugh (and a friend of his) had attempted to rape her during a party in the 1980s.

Apparently, that wasn't good enough for Avenatti.  Or maybe it annoyed him that these other people were hogging all the limelight.  Because suddenly he appeared with a client named Julie Swetnick.  Swetnick alleged that in high school, Kavanaugh had organized parties where young women would be drugged and gang-raped, and that Kavanaugh himself had spiked the drinks.

There was exactly zero evidence that anything along those lines had ever taken place.  Which became apparent only after Avenatti started making media appearances with Swetnick.  Ouch.  Overstep much?

In November, Avenatti was arrested for domestic violence against his much-younger girlfriend, Marelli Miniuti.  Miniutti alleged that a drunken Avenatti dragged her out of bed, called her an "ungrateful fucking bitch," pummeled her with pillows, then threw her out of his apartment.  

"Don't disrespect me," he allegedly told her.

"Totally bogus," Avenatti said when he got out of jail on $50,000 bond.  "I will be vindicated."

Meanwhile, Miniuti was granted a temporary restraining order against Avenatti.

Marelli Miniuti, melting our wings.

Of course, when it rains, it pours.  

Seemingly minutes after the Miniuti allegations, Avenatti's law firm Eagen Avenatti was evicted from their Los Angeles offices because of $213,000 in unpaid rent.

"More nonsense," Avenatti said.  

Then, in late November it turned out that Avenatti had launched a defamation of character lawsuit against Trump on behalf of Stormy Daniels.  The case was dismissed, and the judge found that Daniels owed Trump $300,000 in legal fees as a result.

But Avenatti had also started a crowdfunding account to pay the fees for Daniels.  Daniels, for her part, said she had no idea he was doing any of this, and was considering getting a different lawyer.  

In early December, Avenatti announced that he wouldn't run for president after all.  

The timing was good.  Shortly afterwards, his divorce from his ex-wife Lisa was finalized, revealing that he owes her $1.9 million, and that he will have to liquidate several assets, including five watches and a Frank Gehry sculpture, to raise the money.

Avenatti's run for president is over almost before it started.  And his 15 minutes of fame may also be ending.  But as of this writing, he is still in the game, just not necessarily on top of it.  Hours ago, evil Trump policy advisor Stephen Miller was on TV, sporting very obvious spray-on hair to cover his bald spot.  

And Avenatti was on Twitter moments later, mocking him for it.

“I'm going to leave this right here and not comment, with one exception. @StephenMillerAL - just let it go already. Of all the cover-up options, spray-on is THE WORST.  #BaldIsBeautiful.”

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