• Thomas Parker

Anti-Trump lawyer Avenatti convicted for extortion

Updated: Feb 20, 2020

On Friday, a federal jury in Manhattan convicted celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti of attempting to extort Nike. He faces up to 42 years in prison.

Avenatti rose to fame largely in 2018 due to the media, such as CNN, MSNBC, and a variety of talk shows consistently having him on their programs while he represented a client who was suing Trump. Some in the media even encouraged Avenatti to run against Trump for president in 2020, and The View's Joy Behar said he was "saving the country."

"One reason why I'm taking you seriously as a contender [for president in 2020] is because of your presence of cable news," CNN's Brian Stelter told Avenatti. In 2018, Philip Rucker of the Washington Post said that Avenatti "is the one who stands out" among the field of Democrats potentially planning to run for president in 2020.

Embarrassingly, a man once dubbed the "savior of the Republic" by some in media is now behind bars for attempting to extort over $23 million from Nike. Avenatti has also been charged with defrauding several former clients.

Avenatti was in "crushing debt" at the time and wanted to use the case against Nike to make money, prosecutors said.

His lawyers argued that Avenatti was acting on his client's behalf, but Avenatti sought payments of $1.5 million for his client and at least $12 million for himself.

Geoffrey Berman, US Attorney for the Southern Disctrict of New York, issued a statement saying, "While the defendant may have tried to hide behind legal terms and a suit and tie, the jury clearly saw the defendant's scheme for what it was: an old-fashioned shakedown."

Avenatti's sentencing is scheduled for June 17, though the date isn't final according to the judge.

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