Over the past few days, Michael Avenatti, the attorney for Stormy Daniels, has been steadily releasing what appear to be private communications between Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s longtime attorney, and Keith Davidson, who represented Daniels when she inked a $130,000 hush-money agreement that was facilitated through a shell company set up by Cohen.
These emails are evidence of questionable, if not unethical, collusion between Cohen and Davidson, who are ostensibly representing opposing sides of the dispute.
One email, released by Avenatti on Twitter on Thursday, shows that Cohen was communicating with Davidson in the days after the FBI raided his home and office and seized his phones. This email suggests an ongoing collaboration between Davidson and Cohen, even though the two are not known to be involved in any current legal matter.
On April 9, the FBI raided Mr. Cohen’s home, office and hotel room. Within 48 hours, Mr. Cohen sent the below email to Mr. Davidson. Why? They had no ongoing legal matter at the time. Was it part of an attempt by Mr. Cohen to obstruct justice or worse? #basta pic.twitter.com/e7DfLSxG4x
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) May 10, 2018
On Friday, Avenatti posted another email between Davidson and Cohen, from February, in which Cohen argues that Davidson should not forward part of the hush money agreement to Davidson’s new lawyer. (This didn’t work, as Avenatti obtained the “Side Letter Agreement” and released it as part of Daniels lawsuit against Cohen and Trump, filed in March.)
Knowing what we know now, no wonder Mr. Cohen was doing everything he could to interfere with Ms. Daniels' efforts to get new counsel. He was desperate to avoid the cover-up from surfacing and was afraid that competent counsel would expose him and Mr. Trump. #MoreToCome #Basta pic.twitter.com/FCzzFwcEsP
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) May 11, 2018
This second email is not actually new and was released to NBC News in March. But it raises the question: How is Avenatti getting these emails?
As a matter of practice, lawyers maintain case files for the benefit of their clients. If the client decides to seek new representation, the information in the case file is generally deemed to belong to the client, and it’s then forwarded to the new attorney. In this case, it appears that Davidson turned over these communications to Avenatti as part of Daniels’ case file.
Avenatti hinted as much during a hearing in New York in late April in which he sought to intervene in a dispute about how the materials seized in the raid of Michael Cohen’s office would be handled. Avenatti argued that Davidson and Cohen were continuing to discuss his client’s case and that those communications were part of her case file, which belongs to her.
Of course, those communications, whether they be by email, text messages, or otherwise, would technically belong to my client because it would be part of her attorney-client file.
In other words, Avenatti is concerned there are more materials that belong to his client that were among those seized in the raid. The judge has not yet ruled on his request.
Either way, Avenatti’s stockpile of emails potentially presents big problems for Cohen, Davidson — and possibly President Donald Trump.
The nature of Cohen’s relationship with Davidson is key. They were supposed to be on opposite sides of a number of disputes. But the emails are evidence that the relationship between the two was more collaborative.
Davidson’s representation of Stormy Daniels began when Cohen heard that Daniels was shopping her story around to various media outlets. It was at this point that Cohen asked Davidson to reach out to her, Davidson revealed in an interview with CNN.
Cohen has admitted to referring at least one other client to Davidson.
Were they each sincerely representing the interests of their clients? Or were they working in tandem to purchase their silence of women at a reduced rate and under favorable terms?
Avenatti also says the emails contain evidence that Cohen was seeking to use his relationship with Davidson to interfere with Daniels obtaining new counsel. The purpose, according to Avenatti, was to cover up the other activities of Essential Consultants, the shell company used to pay Daniels, which also received millions from corporations seeking access to Trump.