Avenatti pleads not guilty to extorting Nike, ripping off Stormy Daniels

Lawyer Michael Avenatti pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to charges that he extorted Nike Inc, just hours after entering a not-guilty plea to defrauding porn star Stormy Daniels, the client who propelled him to fame as an outspoken adversary of U.S. President Donald Trump.

"I am now facing the fight of my life against the ultimate Goliath, the Trump administration," Avenatti, 48, told reporters after leaving the courthouse, reiterating previous assertions that he is being targeted for political reasons. "I am confident that when a jury of my peers passes judgment on my conduct, justice will be done and I will be fully exonerated."

Dawn Dearden, a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Richard Berman's office, which is prosecuting the cases, declined to comment.

Avenatti entered his pleas to extortion, communication with intent to extort and two counts of conspiracy in connection with Nike at an afternoon hearing in federal court in Manhattan.

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JULY 23: Celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti walks out of a New York court house after a hearing in a case where he is accused of stealing $300,000 from a former client, adult-film actress Stormy Daniels on July 23, 2019 in New York City. A grand jury has indicted Avenatti for the Daniels-related case and a second case in which prosecutors say he attempted to extort more than $20 million from sportswear giant Nike. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Photo by: gotpap/STAR MAX/IPx 2019 8/26/19 Michael Avenatti is seen in Los Angeles, CA.
Photo by: gotpap/STAR MAX/IPx 2019 8/17/19 Michael Avenatti is seen in Los Angeles, CA.
California attorney Michael Avenatti makes a statement as he leaves a courthouse in New York Tuesday, July 23, 2019, as he faces charges accusing him of cheating porn star Stormy Daniels out of $300,000 in a book deal. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 20: Michael Avenatti attends the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall on August 20, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for MTV)
MAY 28, 2019: Michael Avenatti pleads not guilty in federal court in New York City to all charges of theft, extortion, embezzlement and fraud in the Stormy Daniels and Nike, Inc. cases described below. - MARCH 26, 2019: Federal prosecutors in Manhattan, NYC and Los Angeles, CA charged celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti nearly simultaneously in two criminal cases on Monday, March 25, 2019. These complaints allege that Avenatti attempted to extort more than $20 million from Nike, Inc. and that he committed wire fraud and bank fraud. - File Photo by: zz/GOTPAP/STAR MAX/IPx 2019 3/22/19 Michael Avenatti is seen outside Craig's Restaurant in West Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA.
MAY 28, 2019: Michael Avenatti pleads not guilty in federal court in New York City to all charges of theft, extortion, embezzlement and fraud in the Stormy Daniels and Nike, Inc. cases described below. - MARCH 26, 2019: Federal prosecutors in Manhattan, NYC and Los Angeles, CA charged celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti nearly simultaneously in two criminal cases on Monday, March 25, 2019. These complaints allege that Avenatti attempted to extort more than $20 million from Nike, Inc. and that he committed wire fraud and bank fraud. - File Photo by: zz/Dennis Van Tine/STAR MAX/IPx 2018 4/16/18 Michael Avenatti holds a press conference at the Federal Courthouse in New York City following the hearing for President Donald Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen, at the US District Court for the Southern District of New York State. (NYC)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 20: Michael Avenatti attends the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall on August 20, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for MTV)
Michael Avenatti, lawyer of adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, speaks during a Bloomberg Television interview in New York, U.S., on Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018. Avenatti discussed the allegations against President Donald Trump. Photographer: Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg via Getty Images
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 28: Michael Avenatti is seen on July 28, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by gotpap/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
Michael Avenatti, attorney for Stormy Daniels, is pictured outside the Manhattan Federal Court in New York City, New York, U.S., April 13, 2018. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon
Adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, speaks to media along with lawyer Michael Avenatti (R) outside federal court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 16, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan Mcdermid
Michael Avenatti (C), lawyer for adult-film actress Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, speaks to the media outside the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California after a hearing regarding Clifford's case against Donald J. Trump in Los Angeles, California, April 20, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Michael Avenatti, lawyer for adult-film actress Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, leaves with a film crew film as he departs the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California after a hearing regarding Clifford's case against Donald J. Trump in Los Angeles, California, April 20, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Michael Avenatti, lawyer for adult-film actress Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, speaks to the media outside the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California after a hearing regarding Clifford's case against Donald J. Trump in Los Angeles, California, April 20, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Stormy Daniels' attorney Michael Avenatti leaves federal court surrounded by news media in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 16, 2018.
Michael Avenatti (R), attorney for Stormy Daniels, is pictured outside the Manhattan Federal Court in New York City, New York, U.S., April 13, 2018. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon
THE VIEW - On Tuesday, April 17, Stormy Daniels sits down with the co-hosts of The View (11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. EDT) for her first live television interview. Daniels will be joined in studio by her attorney Michael Avenatti. 'The View' airs Monday-Friday (11:00 am-12:00 pm, ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Heidi Gutman/ABC via Getty Images) JOY BEHAR, STORMY DANIELS, MICHAEL AVANETTI
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 16: Stormy Daniels and Michael Avenatti are seen outside federal court in downtown Manhattan on April 16, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 16: Adult film actress Stormy Daniels' lawyer Michael Avenatti arrives at Federal Court for the hearing at the United States District Court Southern District of New York related to Michael Cohen, President Trump's longtime personal attorney and confidante, April 16, 2018 in New York City. Cohen and lawyers representing President Trump are asking the court to block Justice Department officials from reading documents and materials related to his Cohen's relationship with President Trump that they believe should be protected by attorney-client privilege. Officials with the FBI, armed with a search warrant, raided Cohen's office and two private residences last week. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)
Attorney for Stormy Daniels, Michael Avenatti (R), arrives for a court hearing at the US Courthouse in New York on April 16, 2018. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen has been under criminal investigation for months over his business dealings, and FBI agents last week raided his home, hotel room, office, a safety deposit box and seized two cellphones. / AFP PHOTO / Hector RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 12: Gayle King, Michael Avenatti, Don Lemon and Sean Hannity attend the 2018 The Hollywood Reporter's 35 Most Powerful People In Media at The Pool on April 12, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 13: Michael Avenatti, attorney for Stormy Daniels, speaks to reporters following a court proceeding regarding the search warrants served on President Donald Trump's longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen, at the United States District Court Southern District of New York, April 13, 2018 in New York City. Cohen and his lawyers are asking the court to block Justice Department officials from reading documents and materials related to his relationship with President Donald Trump that they believe should be protected by attorney-client privilege. Officials with the FBI, armed with a search warrant, raided Cohen's office and two private residences earlier in the week. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
THE VIEW - Stormy Daniels' attorney Michael Avenatti is the guest today, Monday, 3/26/18 on ABC's 'The View.' 'The View' airs Monday-Friday (11:00 am-12:00 pm, ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Paula Lobo/ABC via Getty Images) MEGHAN MCCAIN, SARA HAINES, MICHAEL AVANATTI, JOY BEHAR, WHOOPI GOLDBERG, SUNNY HOSTIN
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As U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe read each of the four counts, the lawyer responded four times, "100 percent not guilty."

Earlier in the day, public defender Sylvie Levine entered a not guilty plea for Avenatti to charges of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft in connection with Daniels before U.S. Magistrate Judge James Cott in Manhattan.

Avenatti has hired Miami lawyer Scott Srebnick to represent him in the Nike case. At a brief hearing between his two pleas, Avenatti told U.S. District Judge Deborah Batts, who is expected to oversee the Daniels case, that he plans to hire a private lawyer in that case as well.

He is due back in federal court in Manhattan for hearings in both cases on June 18. He also faces a third set of charges brought by federal prosecutors in California.

In an indictment made public last Wednesday, federal prosecutors in Manhattan accused Avenatti of stealing about $300,000 from Daniels to fund an extravagant lifestyle, including a Ferrari automobile, after helping her secure a book contract.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, was paid $130,000 by Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen shortly before the 2016 presidential election to keep quiet about a sexual encounter she said she had with Trump in 2006. The president has denied having sex with her.

Avenatti represented Daniels in lawsuits related to the hush money and later in negotiating the deal for Daniels' book, "Full Disclosure," which was published in October.

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What Stormy Daniels has said about her affair with Trump
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What Stormy Daniels has said about her affair with Trump

She says: In Touch never paid her for her story

Daniels says she was never paid the $15,000 she was originally offered by In Touch for the story of her alleged affair with Trump.

She says: Her sexual encounter with Trump was consensual

Daniels had said during the "60 Minutes" interview that she didn't want to have sex with Trump – but when asked by Anderson Cooper if the encounter with Trump was consensual, the adult film star responded affirmatively, saying, "yes, yes."

She says: Trump's lawyer threatened her and her daughter

As she detailed the aftermath of the alleged affair, Stormy Daniels -- whose real name is Stephanie Clifford -- described a moment in a Las Vegas parking lot when a man threatened her:

"And a guy walked up on me and said to me, 'Leave Trump alone. Forget the story.' And then he leaned around and looked at my daughter and said, 'That's a beautiful little girl. It'd be a shame if something happened to her mom.' And then he was gone."

She says: Trump compared her to Ivanka

"He was like, 'Wow, you — you are special. You remind me of my daughter,'" Daniels told "60 Minutes." "You know — he was like, 'You're smart and beautiful, and a woman to be reckoned with, and I like you. I like you.'"

She says: Trump "brushed aside" his relationship with Melania

When asked by Anderson Cooper about Trump's marriage to Melania Trump, Daniels said Trump "brushed aside" any concern surrounding his marital vows. She said he spoke of his marriage to Daniels, saying:

"Oh yeah, yeah, you know, don’t worry about that. We don’t even—we have separate rooms and stuff."

She says: She spanked Trump with a magazine with Trump on the cover

Stormy Daniels confirmed in her "60 Minutes" interview the earlier report that she had spanked Trump with a magazine featuring himself on the cover.

She says: She was paid $130,000 in hush money

Michael Cohen has confirmed that he paid Stephanie Clifford $130,000 11 days before the 2016 election. A former chairman of the Federal Election Commission has since said this payment may have been illegal.

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Prosecutors said Avenatti diverted two $148,750 installment payments from Daniels' $800,000 book advance by forging her signature in a letter to her literary agent and directing that the money be sent to his bank account.

Avenatti eventually paid $148,750 to Daniels after obtaining the funds from another source, but lied when she asked where the second payment was, according to prosecutors. Avenatti told Daniels the publisher "owes me a payment" and that he was "on it," prosecutors said.

Daniels has not received that payment, prosecutors said. She dropped Avenatti as her lawyer earlier this year.

Avenatti was arrested in March on charges of trying to extort more than $20 million from Nike by threatening to expose what he called its improper payments to recruits for college basketball teams it sponsored.

Nike has denied wrongdoing, and helped prosecutors before Avenatti's arrest.

At the same time, Avenatti was charged by prosecutors in Los Angeles with stealing millions of dollars from clients to pay for personal and business expenses and lying to the Internal Revenue Service and a Mississippi bank about his finances. He has pleaded not guilty to those charges.

Before his arrest, Avenatti was a fixture on cable news channels as an outspoken critic of Trump, and briefly toyed with running for president in 2020.

Michael Cohen is about three weeks into a three-year prison term after pleading guilty to campaign finance violations related to the hush money payment to Daniels and other financial crimes.

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