These last few days have been very eventful for President Trump. First, Special Counsel Robert Mueller wrapped up his two-year Russian collusion investigation and gave the president “a legal clean bill of health,” as NBC’s Savannah Guthrie put it.
Now, attorney Michael Avenatti, who has tried to sink Trump over allegations that he knowingly paid for an adult film star’s silence over an alleged affair, has now been arrested for charges out of New York City and for a separate set of charges out of Los Angeles on Monday.
NEW YORK CITY CHARGES
According to CNBC, Avenatti — a frequent CNN guest — is accused of trying to extort millions of dollars out of athletic apparel giant Nike. In a tweet on Monday, the lawyer threatened to expose an alleged Nike scandal during a press conference Tuesday right before the company’s high-stakes quarterly earnings call. He was arrested shortly after the tweet.
According to the Washington Post, authorities say the lawyer had threatened to hold the damaging press conference unless Nike “paid his client $1.5 million and agreed to hire Avenatti and another lawyer for $15 to $25 million to conduct an ‘internal investigation’ into the allegations.”
Avenatti reportedly offered Nike an alternative deal: give him “a total payment of $22.5 million from Nike to resolve any claims [his client] might have and additionally to buy Avenatti’s silence.”
LOS ANGELES CHARGES
Aventatti is also facing federal charges in Los Angeles for embezzling one of his client’s money “in order to pay his own expense and debts,” according to prosecutors, as well as defrauding a bank and lying on his income tax returns.
The L.A. U.S. Attorney’s Office explained:
“Avenatti misappropriated his client’s settlement money and used it to pay expenses for his coffee business, Global Baristas US LLC, which operated Tully’s Coffee stores in California and Washington state, as well as for his own expenses.
When the fake March 2018 deadline passed and the client asked where the money was, Avenatti continued to conceal that the payment had already been received, court documents said.
Avenatti also allegedly defrauded a bank in Mississippi by submitting to the lender false tax returns in order to obtain three loans totaling $4.1 million for his law firm and coffee business in 2014.
According to the affidavit, Avenatti obtained the loans by submitting fabricated individual income tax returns [Forms 1040] for 2011, 2012, and 2013, reporting substantial income even though he had never filed any such returns with the Internal Revenue Service.”
Conservatives on Twitter exploded as the news broke: