Lazy Saturday Reads: Will Michael Avenatti Take Down Trump?Posted: May 12, 2018
Will Michael Avenatti bring down the Trump crime family? He’s everywhere nowadays. Yesterday he post this tweet and sent amateur and then media investigators on a new path.
Business Insider: Stormy Daniels’ lawyer dropped a cryptic hint about ‘large sums of money’ he claims flowed out of a Michael Cohen-linked shell company that received millions of dollars after Trump’s election.
A search of state public records shows that Demeter Direct, Inc. is a California-based entity operated by a person named Mark S. Ko. Documents for the company describe it as a Korean food retailer. but an archive of the company’s website shows it as a business strategy, consulting, and investment firm. The website was no longer live as of this writing.
The official address listed for Demeter Direct, Inc., 3810 Wilshire Boulevard., Suite 412, Los Angeles, CA 90010, is actually an apartment, located inside a high-rise condo building near downtown Los Angeles. Another company name, PK2 Entertainment, is also linked to the Los Angeles address, and to Ko….
Demeter Direct’s website archive shows Verizon, Sony, FedEx, and Union Bank of California as some of its clients.
The precise nature of the services for which Avenatti said Cohen paid “large sums of money” to Demeter Direct was not immediately clear, but Avenatti has hinted repeatedly that there are other revelations yet to come about Cohen’s business dealings, which are already the subject of a criminal investigation in the Southern District of New York.
CNN communicated with Mark Ko: Head of Demeter Direct tells CNN he worked for Cohen in Korea Aerospace deal.
Mark Ko, the head of a company called Demeter Direct, told CNN on Friday that he served as a middle person between Trump aide Michael Cohen and Korea Aerospace Industries.
“With regards to your inquiry on my involvement with Michael Cohen, I was brought in as business consultant and translator between Michael Cohen and Korea Aerospace Industries,” Ko told CNN in an email. “The relationship officially ended on November 2017.”
It was reported this week that Korea Aerospace Industries paid Cohen $150,000 in consulting fees.
Public filings for Demeter Direct in California list Ko as the company’s CEO and say the company deals with Korean food.
CNN had reached out to Ko earlier this week to ask whether Demeter Direct had helped arrange Cohen’s business consulting deal with Korea Aerospace Industries. Ko responded to the inquiries Friday evening.
So this guy is operating out of an apartment. Is he some pal of Cohen’s who helped him launder money he got from shaking down big corporations? No doubt Robert Mueller has already looked into this.
Avenatti appeared on AM Joy this morning and issued a warning.
Last week, I heard Avennati say on some cable show–he’s everywhere–that when he took over Stormy Daniels’ case from Keith Davidson, he received the entire field, including emails between Davidson and Michael Cohen. He has been releasing things bit by bit.
Judd Legum at Think Progress: How Michael Avenatti got Michael Cohen’s emails. And why that’s a big problem for Cohen.
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….
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….
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?
If I ever needed a lawyer, I hope I could find one as good as Michael Avennati!
According to The Daily Beast: Trump Has No Plan to Counterpunch Michael Avenatti.
For weeks, Avenatti has been a thorn in the president’s side. In seemingly endless and continuous string of cable news hits, he has called into question the veracity of Trump’s insistence that there was no affair with Daniels. He has pursued legal challenges to a nondisclosure agreement between Daniels and the president’s top fixer, Michael Cohen. He has vexed the president’s own legal team, getting them to haphazardly admit that Trump knew about hush money payments. And he has exposed a secretive network of finances that allowed Cohen to both pay off Daniels (and, potentially, other women) as well as recruit business for a shadow-lobbying operation during the Trump administration.
Inside the White House, aides say that anything related to the Stormy Daniels-Michael Cohen saga is purview of outside counsel. At the Republican National Committee, sources say, there is no rapid-response-like operation designed to counter-balance Avenatti’s numerous media appearances. Conservative outlets allied with the president have covered the drama but they have largely avoided doing the type of oppositional digging that they have undertaken on other real and perceived Trump foes. And Republican strategists seem unclear as to whether anyone is gearing up an operation any time soon.
There have been questions about whether political enemies of the Trump are paying Avennati. He says absolutely not.
Maybe Avennati isn’t dirty. Maybe he’s just a really good lawyer. This morning he’s questioning why a top law firm, Squire Patton Boggs, was paying Michael Cohen right up until the FBI raid.
I wonder what the Twitter detectives and the press will dig up on that question?
In other news, The New York Times has a deep dive into the antics of Trump’s biggest fan, Rep. Devin Nunes: Suspicions, Demands and Threats: Devin Nunes vs. the Justice Dept.
Representative Devin Nunes of California, has issued increasingly bold demands for access to some of the Justice Department’s most sensitive case files. He has courted a series of escalating confrontations over access to materials that are usually off limits to Congress under department policy. And when those efforts failed, he threatened top law enforcement officials — mostly Republicans appointed by Mr. Trump.
In the latest episode, splashed across cable news this past week, Mr. Nunes demanded more documents and related materials for his investigation into allegations of surveillance abuse by federal law enforcement officials. His claim pitted him against not just the Justice Department, but also officials in the F.B.I., the intelligence community and the White House, who warned that disclosure could endanger a longtime source who is aiding the special counsel’s investigation….
But increasingly, top officials at the Justice Department have privately expressed concern that the lawmakers are simply mining government secrets for information they can weaponize against those investigating the president, including the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.
Mr. Nunes was unconvinced by the warnings about the intelligence and law enforcement source, first issuing a subpoena ordering that the Justice Department comply with his latest records request and then a pointed threat to hold Attorney General Jeff Sessions — who is not involved in the case — in contempt of Congress.
Click on the link to read the rest.
Everyone is still talking about the White House’s treatment of Senator John McCain, who is dying of brain cancer.
Aaron Blake at The Washington Post: The Trump White House crossed a new threshold for political debasement this week.
The White House probably thinks it cannot punish Kelly Sadler for her awful comment about John McCain because President Trump has also said nasty things about McCain. It may worry that showing her the door would set a troubling precedent for a president who may one day cross a very similar line.
Welcome to the ongoing degradation of our political discourse. Destination: No end in sight.
One mainstay of the Trump era is reporters are constantly wary of overselling the salience of the political moment. We have seen Trump cross so many established lines of acceptable political behavior and rhetoric, and the outrage cycle can feel futile and even perfunctory. Whether it is Trump’s goal to bulldoze our political norms or not, it is happening with an almost unflinching steadiness.
It is worth recording just where we are when key thresholds are crossed. What happened this week is worse than most anything we have seen — worse even, I would argue, than Trump questioning McCain’s war hero status. What’s more, the White House is trying to simply brush it under the rug, which means the bulldozer is pressing forward.
In case you missed it:
Sadler reportedly said of McCain’s opposition to Gina Haspel’s nomination to be CIA director, “It doesn’t matter; he’s dying anyway.” The White House’s response Friday was not to distance itself from the comment about the brain cancer-stricken Arizona senator, but to no-comment. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Sadler is still employed but declined to go any further. “I’m not going to validate a leak one way or another out of an internal staff meeting,” she said.
Read the rest at the WaPo. Here’s some background on Kelly Sadler at Heavy.com: Kelly Sadler: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know.
That’s all I have for you today. What stories are you following?