Outside of the L.A. County jailhouse Wednesday night, celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti found himself doing something he's been coaching clients to do for years: delivering a statement confidently declaring his innocence, predicting his exoneration after a full investigation, and framing himself as a target of "intimidation." To add to the irony, after several months of presenting himself as a the hard-hitting defender of abused women, he found it necessary to tell reporters that he has "never struck a woman" and "never will strike a woman."
On Wednesday, TMZ reported that Avenatti had been arrested on suspected felony domestic violence charges, a report soon confirmed by the LAPD. "We can confirm that today LAPD Detectives arrested Michael Avenatti on suspicion of domestic violence," the department said in an initial statement. "We can confirm that Michael Avenatti (DOB: 02-16-71) was booked this afternoon on a felony domestic violence charge (273.5 PC)," LAPD posted later in an update. "His bail is set at $50,000."
Citing unnamed law enforcement sources, TMZ painted an ugly scene of what allegedly took place:
We're told Wednesday afternoon the woman was on the sidewalk on her cellphone with sunglasses covering her eyes, sobbing and screaming on the phone, "I can't believe you did this to me. I'm going to get a restraining order against you."
We're told security brought her inside the building, took her upstairs and Michael showed up 5 minutes later and ran into the building. He screamed repeatedly, "She hit me first." We're told he angrily added, "This is bulls***, this is f***ing bulls***." We're told he tried getting into the elevator but security denied him access.
TMZ has since reported that law enforcement sources say "the LAPD has already obtained an emergency protective order, prohibiting Avenatti from going near the alleged victim."
Upon posting bail Wednesday night, Avenatti got in front of the cameras and gave an uncharacteristically "very brief and very succinct" statement asserting his innocence, stressing that he's been an "advocate for women's right my entire career," insisting that he will "not be intimidated," and reminding people that he has two daughters.
"I'm going to make this very brief and very succinct," he told reporters (video below). "First of all, I want to thank the hardworking men and women of the LAPD for their professionalism and their work today. They had no option in light of the allegations. Secondly, I have never struck a woman. I never will strike a woman. I have been an advocate for women's rights my entire career, and I'm going to continue to be an advocate. I am not going to be intimidated from stopping what I am doing. I am a father to two beautiful, smart daughters. I would never disrespect them by touching a woman inappropriately or striking a woman. I am looking forward to a full investigation at which point I am confident that I will be fully exonerated. I also want to thank everyone for their support that has reached out. You know my character, you know me as a man, and I appreciate it. Thank you."
Avenatti became a national name after mainstream news outlets gave him a conspicuous amount of air time to present various scandalous allegations from his client Stormy Daniels against President Trump. The celebrity lawyer eventually announced that he was interested in running against Trump in 2020.
When uncorroborated allegations against now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh by Christine Blasey Ford was leaked to the press after landing in the hands of Democrat Dianne Feinstein, Avenatti revealed uncorroborated and outrageous allegations of his new client, Julie Swetnick, which Democrats originally defended as "credible," but soon fell apart.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has since referred Avenatti and Swetnick to the Department of Justice for "potential violations of Senate rules, potential witness tampering, and potential false statements made to the Committee in violation of federal law."