Legal Analysis

One Thing is Clear From Michael Cohen’s Hearing… No One Wanted Michael Avenatti There

Stormy Daniels‘ attorney Michael Avenatti filed a motion to intervene in the government’s case against Michael Cohen today. But that request was no home run win for Avenatti.

It was supposed to be so easy.

To be clear: Judge Kimba Wood initially indicated she would be okay with Avenatti’s request, but later reassessed Avenatti’s request after DOJ attorneys raised an issue. So, what made her change her mind?

It seemed like nobody else wanted Avenatti and Daniels involved, from my perspective as a legal analyst at the hearing.

Prosecutor Thomas McKay pushed back against Avenatti’s intervenor request and asked for an opportunity to submit any potential objections before Judge Wood made her final decision. Since Avenatti’s intervenor pleading was filed just this morning, apparently nobody aside from the press even bothered to read it–McKay admitted as much and subsequently asked for an opportunity to read Avenatti’s brief. He said, “We’re not sure this motion was made properly in this case and we may object.”

Avenatti seemed incredulous. His voice searching for the proper timbre of respect and disdain, he offered three major reasons for why his intervenor request should be granted immediately: (1) a “substantial reason to believe” that there are untoward discussions between Cohen and Keith Davidson regarding Daniels: (2) that Davidson and Cohen were in direct contact just days before the FBI raids on Cohen’s offices and residences; and (3) that many documents in Cohen’s possession likely fall under the settlement privilege and Daniels is therefore entitled to them.

After this, Cohen attorney Steve Ryan rose to ask the court not to rule on the intervenor request today because he would also like the opportunity to read Avenatti’s brief and submit objections if his team felt it was necessary–but noted that he didn’t anticipate any such objections.

Judge Wood made her final decision–she would punt on the intervenor request but clarified that she’d rather the government and Avenatti work any issues out amongst themselves.

(For what it’s worth: Avenatti seemed much more keen on talking to McKay than McKay seemed about talking with Avenatti.)

Near the end of the hearing, Avenatti raised the prospect of “additional issues” related to the “seized or turned over” Davidson documents–referencing a series of SMS exchanges but the issue didn’t go anywhere.

The court was adjourned.

Editor’s Note: This article has been edited for clarity. 

[image via screengrab/NBC]

Follow Colin Kalmbacher on Twitter: @colinkalmbacher

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