Stormy Daniels and her Democratic presidential hopeful attorney Michael Avenatti were undoubtedly anticipating an "excessive" bill from President Trump's legal team on Monday, but, as Avenatti's response indicates, they didn't see Trump's lawyers' additional punitive request coming.
In a move Avenatti is calling "absolutely absurd and outrageous," Trump's legal team has not only submitted a $340,000 bill for legal fees for the defamation lawsuit filed by Daniels that was dismissed in October, they're asking the judge to hit the president's porn star accuser with a double bill as punishment for her frivolous suit, coming to a grand total of $778,806.
Avenatti was incensed by the actions of Trump's lawyers, while the judge didn't signal either way how he might rule. "At a hearing Monday, U.S. District Judge S. James Otero didn’t tip his hand as to how he’ll rule after Clifford’s lawyer, Michael Avenatti, called the attorney fee request 'gross and excessive,' and then labeled the sanction demand 'absolutely absurd and outrageous,'" Bloomberg reports. The fees, said Avenatti, should not exceed $25,000.
As The Daily Wire noted Monday, Trump's lawyers have defended their "gross and excessive" legal fees by contending that Avenatti's public antics and publicity-seeking required them to put in an unusual amount of time — over 500 hours — into the "virtually unprecedented" situation.
"This action is virtually unprecedented in American legal history," lead attorney Charles Harder argued in the filing, NBC News reports. Cliffords not only brought a "meritless" claim against the president, "she also has engaged, along with her attorney, in massive national publicity," which included naming her strip tour "Making America Horny Again" and publishing a memoir, both of which profited off of all the free publicity.
Avenatti, meanwhile, became a household name due to Daniels' accusations that Trump and Michael Cohen were attempting to bully her into silence about her alleged one-night tryst with Trump. At one point during the height of the scandal, Avenatti appeared on CNN and MSNBC over 100 times in two months.
The failed defamation suit centered on a tweet by Trump he issued in response to Daniels and Avenatti presenting a composite sketch of a man she said threatened her in a parking lot in 2013 over her plans to tell the story of her alleged affair with Trump.
Daniels sued, claiming the "con job" reference defamed her — though she recently told the Daily Beast that Avenatti filed the lawsuit against her wishes.
Judge Otero ended up siding with Trump. "The court agrees with Mr. Trump’s argument because the tweet in question constitutes ‘rhetorical hyperbole’ normally associated with politics and public discourse in the U.S.," he said in a ruling in October. "The First Amendment protects this type of rhetorical statement."
Daniels' public falling out with Avenatti began a few weeks ago when he was arrested for suspicion of domestic abuse, a case declined by the LA district attorney. Last week, she issued a statement to the Daily Beast leveling a series of accusations against her attorney.
"Michael has been a great advocate in many ways," said Daniels. "I'm tremendously grateful to him for aggressively representing me in my fight to regain my voice. But in other ways Michael has not treated me with the respect and deference an attorney should show to a client. He has spoken on my behalf without my approval. He filed a defamation case against Donald Trump against my wishes. He repeatedly refused to tell me how my legal defense fund was being spent. Now he has launched a new crowdfunding campaign using my face and name without my permission and attributing words to me that I never wrote or said."
Avenatti denied having failed to be transparent with her about the crowdfunding campaigns and insists he's always been her biggest advocate.