Stormy’s lawyer ends bid for role in Cohen case

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Michael Avenatti, the outspoken lawyer who represents adult film actress Stormy Daniels in her suit against President Trump, says there are audio recordings of Trump's conversations with his embattled personal attorney, Michael Cohen.

She said none of the pieces of data from three phones likely to be turned over Wednesday after she makes a final review of them were designated as subject to attorney-client privilege or highly personal by lawyers for Cohen, Trump or the Trump Organization.

Wood told Avenatti that while he is free to speak his mind now, he would have to end his "publicity tour" and attacks on Cohen if he became part of the case.

Public discussion of the case by participants could "potentially deprive him [Cohen] of a fair trial by potentially tainting a jury pool", Wood said, calling the proceedings a "potential precursor to a criminal proceeding if charges are filed".

Federal investigators raided Cohen's office, hotel and apartment last month with search warrants partially obtained after a referral from special counsel Robert Mueller.

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The stakes for the president are high.

She said almost 300,000 items, including 12,543-pages of hard-copy documents in eight boxes, have already been turned over to prosecutors. Trump denies it. Daniels was not in court Wednesday.

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"Candidly, he shouldn't be asking us to answer questions; he should be asked to answer questions", Ryan said. "I had to send him home".

Both Wood and the government want that process to speed up, and Wood sided with the government in setting a June 15 deadline for the review's completion.

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Meanwhile, Epner said that because disputed items wouldn't be turned over to federal prosecutors until all objections and appeals are exhausted, there was more "incentive" for Cohen and Trump to "carry the fight" to the circuit court - and even the Supreme Court level - if Jones and Wood "decide that documents over which privilege is claimed are, in fact, not privileged".

Avenatti's involvement has complicated the Cohen probe. Ryan protested that the barrage was improper, saying Avenatti was on television at least 170 times, mostly to badmouth Cohen. "Fuckin' traitor!" yelled one.

In 2016, Cohen paid Daniels $130,000.

Matching Avenatti's flare for the dramatic, Ryan noted that he's never opposed a motion of this nature in his 37 years of practice, but he did so on Wednesday because of Avenatti's "intentional, malicious, and prejudicial release of information" which amounted to a "drive-by shooting" of his client. He meant to prejudice and cause harm, and he did. Conservative media interests seem intent on taking him down a peg and every potential misstep is getting dozens of gallons of digital ink due to genuine journalistic interest in Avenatti's seemingly out-of-nowhere prominence on the national scene.

The emails, according to Hendon, undercut a simple claim by Avenatti: that the law firm connected to the California bankruptcy did not represent Clifford in the matter before Wood.

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Avenatti had applied to intervene in the case so he could ensure that any confidential records or recordings related to Daniels that were in Cohen's possession weren't improperly disclosed. Avenatti said the existence of such recordings was "surprising and disturbing". The release showed Cohen also using the account to receive millions of dollars from companies such as AT&T and Novartis, which have publicly acknowledging paying Cohen for supposed consultation services.