Trump was 'not surprised' that Michael Avenatti's day in court didn't go as planned

Alex Wong/Getty ImagesDonald Trump.
  • President Donald Trump’s outside attorney Rudy Giuliani told Business Insider that he and the president discussed the appearance by Stormy Daniels’s attorney, Michael Avenatti, in court on Wednesday.
  • Avenatti appeared in longtime Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s court case.
  • Giuliani mentioned that Judge Kimba Wood chided Avenatti.
  • He also recalled that Trump said he was not surprised by the news.

President Donald Trump’s outside attorney Rudy Giuliani told Business Insider in a Thursday phone interview that the president was “not surprised” by the turn Michael Avenatti’s court appearance took on Wednesday.

Avenatti is the attorney for porn star Stormy Daniels, and he appeared in the court proceeding involving Trump’s longtime lawyer Michael Cohen.

Cohen facilitated a hush money payment to Daniels before the 2016 presidential election to keep her quiet about allegations of an affair with Trump. He’s now the focus of a criminal investigation in the Southern District of New York into whether he violated campaign-finance laws or committed bank fraud.

Giuliani said he gave the president a Wednesday evening update on what happened before US District Judge Kimba Wood in the Southern District earlier that day.

“I said, ‘from my understanding … the judge basically told Avenatti that he doesn’t have the character, the background, too many ethical problems to be admitted pro hac vice – which is done routinely,'” Giuliani said, recalling his conversation with the president. Avenatti had motioned to be admitted to appear before the court “pro hac vice,” which means “for the occasion,” in Cohen’s case.

“‘Well, that’s not surprising,'” Giuliani recalled Trump responding.

Avenatti responded to Giuliani’s comments in an email to Business Insider, criticising Trump’s attorney for his version of events that he relayed to the president.

“At least we now know that Mr. Giuliani doesn’t just lie to the American people, he lies to his client Mr. Trump as well,” Avenatti said. “Is Mr. Giuliani so dense that he does not even try and become informed as to the facts? It is frightening that this two guys are at the forefront of making critical decisions that impact millions of people. Will there ever be an adult in the room?”

Giuliani’s recounting of Avenatti’s day in court served as his extrapolated interpretation of the proceedings. But Wednesday did not go as planned for the porn star’s lawyer.

The dramatic proceeding was highlighted by the battle between Avenatti and the lawyers for both Cohen and Trump. Avenatti ended up withdrawing his petition to appear before the court.

Avenatti’s client, Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, is suing Cohen and Trump in California, seeking to get out of the nondisclosure agreement tied to her $US130,000 hush money payment. Trump recently admitted to reimbursing Cohen for that expenditure.

During the Wednesday hearing, Wood needled Avenatti for his “publicity tour,” saying Avenatti’s frequent press appearances would have to end if Cohen faces a criminal trial and Avenatti is allowed to appear before the court because of its potential effect on a jury pool.

She said that would mean no more document dumps from Avenatti – such as when he released information on Cohen’s financial dealings – and no opinions on Cohen’s abilities.

“Michael’s lawyer is the one who really fought back here,” Giuliani said of Cohen’s attorney, Stephen Ryan, adding that Wood’s comments to Avenatti were the most important. “It’s one thing if people on the other side of the case say that, it’s another thing if a judge says that.”

In concluding the proceedings, Wood put Avenatti’s motion to appear on hold.

“Until you are admitted here, I don’t expect you to stand and be heard here,” she said.

Wood did not throw Avenatti out of the courtroom, as Giuliani claimed during a Wednesday night interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, however, and she did not express judgment about his ethics.

After his appearance in court, Avenatti withdrew his petition to appear, saying he’d refile the motion “if necessary, at a later time.” Daniels has a separate motion in the case to become an intervenor, and that motion is on hold.

‘Trump probably feels terrible that’ Avenatti’s ’caused so many problems for Michael Cohen’

As Avenatti has taken to the airwaves and social media to repeatedly take shots at the president, Trump has, seemingly out of character, not taken public shots back at Avenatti. Meanwhile, Giuliani has not held back in blasting Avenatti over the past month.

“I don’t think the president pays much attention to him really,” Giuliani said. “I mean he tries to engage us. He wanted to debate me and I laughed at it. I mean the president just thinks he’s a fool, and he probably feels terrible that he’s caused so many problems for Michael Cohen, who doesn’t deserve it.”

Pointing to Daniels, Giuliani said she “hasn’t gotten anything yet” out of Avenatti’s representation of her.

“She’s not going to get anything,” he said.

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