On Thursday, three days before CBS’ “60 Minutes” aired an interview with adult film star Stormy Daniels about her alleged 2006 sexual encounter with Donald Trump and the alleged threats to keep quiet about it, her attorney tweeted a mysterious picture of a CD or DVD.
“If ‘a picture is worth a thousand words,” how many words is this worth,” asked Michael Avenatti who later added the hashtags “#60minutes,” “#pleasedenyit,” and “#basta” (Italian for “enough”).
On Monday, one attorney argued that Avenatti had opened himself up to criminal charges if the disc turns out to be a recording of Trump and Daniels, as has been speculated.
In a piece for Law & Crime, Robert Barnes argued that Avenatti and Daniels could be on the hook for illegally recording Trump -- a crime in California, where so-called “two-party consent” is required to record private conversations -- as well as invasion of privacy and disclosure of “revenge porn” if the tape shows sexual activity between Daniels and Trump.
Fox News judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano, while noting that he had no idea what was on the disc, said Monday that Avenatti “can threaten all he wants, but if he goes into court and says ‘I have something’ and that material was obtained illegally, then he has serious issues on his hands.”
Los Angeles defense attorney Ken White, a former federal prosecutor, told Fox News he didn’t think Avenatti would be held responsible for the material on the disc, though he added, “I suppose hypothetically Daniels could be sued over it.” White did describe Avenatti’s initial tweet as “posturing and silly” and showing “questionable professionalism.”
Daniels received a $130,000 payment days before the 2016 presidential election for her silence about the alleged encounter and has sought to invalidate a nondisclosure agreement she signed. Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, has said he paid the $130,000 out of his pocket while asserting Trump never had sex with the porn actress.
Napolitano said he thought Avenatti had erred earlier this month when he sued to invalidate the nondisclosure agreement in federal court, claiming that Trump had never signed off on an agreement.
“He should have proceeded like the agreement was already invalid,” Napolitano said. “It [would have] put Cohen’s back to the wall.”
In the wake of Daniels’ interview with “60 Minutes,” attorney Kyle Bristow argued that Trump had a case to sue Daniels for so-called “specific performance” and pursue liquidated damages. According to Bristow, the agreement went into effect when Daniels received the money and could be enforceable against her.
“If she’s out doing interviews, clearly that’s a violation of the agreement,” Bristow said, “and I don’t think the First Amendment applies... People have the right to enter into agreements whereby their rights are waived.”
White said if he were advising Daniels, he would tell her to “keep in mind what her goal is.”
“If her goal is chaos and notoriety and money, then this is the right way to go about it,” he said. “If her goal is to win in court, then this sort of thing will not please most judges.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.