If Michael Cohen doesn’t want Michael Avenatti to show up at his federal court hearing next week, Cohen’s lawyers are going to have to find a legal basis to block him – and fast.
U.S. Judge Kimba Wood ruled Wednesday that Cohen had to promptly respond to Avenatti’s motion to intervene at a status conference related to the criminal investigation into Cohen’s financial dealings. The proceeding is focused on the rules governing materials seized from Cohen’s premises by federal agents.
In her ruling, Wood pointedly wrote that Cohen “should include citations to any legal authorities that support his position.”
Last week, after Avenatti released a document detailing some of Cohen’s private bank records, Cohen’s lawyers submitted a filing requesting that Avenatti be barred from intervening for spreading “misinformation.” They cited a few parts of Avenatti’s document that appear to have mistakenly conflated Cohen with a Canadian businessman who shares his name.
But the key information released by Avenatti has been confirmed by several major news outlets. It showed that Cohen set up a shell company to receive huge corporate payments and handle hush money payouts to his client, adult film star Stormy Daniels. Daniels alleges that she had an affair with President Trump in 2006.
Avenatti responded this week with a sharp letter of his own, pointing out that it was his First Amendment right to publish information that is “of the utmost public concern.” He said Cohen’s team’s arguments should be rejected based on their failure to “cite a single statute, rule, case or any other legal authority” supporting their position.
Wood gave Cohen’s lawyers a Friday evening deadline to respond. The hearing is scheduled for next Thursday, May 24.