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Michael Avenatti Tries To Get Released From Jail Over Coronavirus; Trump Weighs In
Adult film actress/director Stormy Daniels and attorney Michael Avenatti attend the 2019 Adult Video News Awards at The Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on January 26, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images)
Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images

Celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti — the man who famously represented Donald Trump accuser porn star Stormy Daniels and Brett Kavanaugh accuser Julie Swetnick, and at one point appeared on CNN and MSNBC to denounce Trump over 100 times in a span of about two months — asked a federal judge last week to release him from jail while awaiting trial in New York, citing his supposed vulnerability to contracting COVID-19.

Avenatti, who was convicted in February on extortion charges after the FBI recorded him trying to strong-arm Nike into paying him tens of millions of dollars to not go public with what he claimed was damning evidence of illegal activity by the shoe and clothing giant, has been in custody since January after prosecutors said he hid $1 million from his creditors, violating federal and state laws.

Last Wednesday, Avenatti applied to the federal judge in Santa Ana for release on bail, insisting that because of past complications and his current cellmate, he is especially vulnerable to the coronavirus while in custody.

“Avenatti’s attorney, Dean Steward, said his client contracted pneumonia around Christmas while he was out of custody, but he has since recovered,” the Orange County Register reported last week. “Avenatti’s New York cellmate, however, has fallen ill and appeared to have symptoms similar to COVID-19, according to Steward, who said the man has not been tested as far as his client knows.”

“He’s more vulnerable than everybody else for that reason,” Steward insisted.

But as Gregg Jarrett on Sunday, Avenatti’s arguments fell on deaf ears. “A federal judge in Santa Ana, California has rejected a plea from convicted lawyer Michael Avenatti to be released from jail because of the risk he could contract the coronavirus,” Jarrett’s outlet reports.

“The Court is mindful of the Covid 19 pandemic,” U.S. District Judge James V. Selna wrote. “The Court accepts Avenatti’s showing that the had pneumonia about six months ago. However, there is no showing that his cellmate was infected by the virus, and there have been no reported cases of Covid 19 at the New York MCC.2 As the Government points out, much of Avenatti’s criticism about the facility relate to a different facility in Brooklyn. There is no basis to release Avenatti on medical grounds.”

“We are deeply disappointed,” Steward said Saturday in response to Judge Selna’s ruling.

President Trump, who was the main target of Avenatti’s attacks for several months at the height of the Stormy Daniels saga, commented on the Gregg Jarrett report early Wednesday with a heavy dose of sarcasm. “Gee, that’s too bad. Such a fine guy,” wrote Trump. “Presidential aspirations you know!”

Empowered by months of glowing media coverage over his Daniels-based attacks on Trump, the disgraced attorney once threatened to face off against the president in the 2020 race, but his presidential aspirations were derailed when a series of accusations and financial and legal woes came to light. The Nike extortion case as well as various fraud accusations put the final touches on the collapse of Avenatti’s career.

Related: Prosecutors: Here’s Why Michael Avenatti Was Desperate Enough To Extort Nike; Avenatti: ‘Ludicrous’

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