Attorney Michael Avenatti has emerged as one of the most outspoken critics of President Trump. Avenatti famously represented porn star Stormy Daniels and at one point rumors even circulated that he’d run for U.S. president in an effort to unseat Trump.
Except now Avenatti is going to find himself back in court, and this time he’ll be the one facing a judge and jury. Avenatti has been charged by federal prosecutors for allegedly attempting to extort Nike. Avenatti is also facing separate charges for allegedly misusing a client’s settlement funds to pay for his own coffee business.
Avenatti was arrested on Monday in New York City. He had arrived for what he thought was a meeting with Nike lawyers but instead found himself in the custody of federal agents. Another lawyer has also been tied to the case, although his or her identity has not yet been released.
So what’s got Avenatti in hot water? We can turn to the lawyer’s Twitter feed to get some clues. Shortly before Avenatti was taken into custody, he had tweeted that he was going to hold a news conference: “to disclose a major high school/college basketball scandal perpetrated by @Nike that we have uncovered. This criminal conduct reaches the highest levels of Nike and involves some of the biggest names in college basketball.”
It appears that Avenatti had threatened Nike with embarrassing information regarding an alleged scandal. Avenatti claims that he has evidence that Nike employees had paid the families of top high school basketball players.
If Nike wanted Avenatti to keep quiet, they would have to pay his client $1.5 million and would have needed to hire Avenatti and another lawyer to conduct an internal investigation into the allegations. That investigation, by the way, would have cost Nike $15 to 25 million.
During a phone call with Nike executives, Avenatti also threatened to take billions off Nike’s market cap. Maybe Nike will find itself in hot water over the alleged payments. Certainly, Avenatti has already found himself in jeopardy.