- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Michael Avenatti, the one-time Trump nemesis, asked a federal judge Wednesday to toss the criminal case against him in New York, saying he’s getting a bum rap because of his “feud” with President Trump.

The lawyer also defended himself against charges that he tried to extort money from Nike, the sports clothing giant, saying his demands for payment were part of normal lawyer’s work trying to reach a legal settlement on behalf of his client.

Mr. Avenatti says the government rushed to arrest him before learning all the facts, and now should realize his interactions with Nike — which the government says it has on tape — were legal.

And he said if he committed a crime worthy of prosecution, then the government should also charge a man they say was his co-conspirator, but who has yet to face charges.

“For due process purposes, the relevant question is ‘why the disparate treatment of Mr. Avenatti?’ ” his defense lawyer, Scott A. Srebnick, wrote in a memo asking the judge to toss the case.

Mr. Avenatti’s answer for why he is being prosecuted is clear: he has feuded with Mr. Trump, particularly when he was the lawyer for porn star Stormy Daniels, who accused the president of an affair years ago before he was a politician.

Mr. Avenatti was President Trump’s chief antagonist in the civil arena and in the court of public opinion,” Mr. Srebnick argued. “Mr. Avenatti was interviewed on television hundreds of times about President Trump’s behavior and became, in many ways, the foil for President Trump.”

The charges in New York stem from a scheme prosecutors say Mr. Avenatti ran to demand more than $20 million in payments from Nike or else he would go public with details of the company making backroom deals with athletes.

Those charges were unsealed in New York in late March — the same day that federal prosecutors in California also announced charges against Mr. Avenatti, accusing him of bank and tax fraud.

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