Michael Cohen attends opening of Avenatti’s trial for Stormy Daniels fraud charges

Michael Cohen attends opening of Avenatti’s trial for Stormy Daniels fraud charges
Mr Cohen, who has admitted sending ‘hush money’ to Stormy Daniels, turned on his former boss in time to provide evidence in his first impeachment trial

Michael Cohen, the former personal lawyer to Donald Trump who admitted to paying adult film actress Stormy Daniels $130,000 to cover up her affair with the former president, has arrived at the trial of Ms Daniels’ own ex-lawyer, Michael Avenatti.

Mr Avenatti stands accused of defrauding Ms Daniels out of a book advance totalling some $300,000. His former client is expected to testify against him; he has insisted he is innocent of the alleged crimes, which include wire fraud and identity theft.

Tweeting in advance of the trial’s opening, Mr Cohen mocked Mr Avenatti, who has been a bitter personal rival since Ms Daniels brought a defamation lawsuit against the Trump lawyer during the president’s term.

“I figured @MichaelAvenatti was so kind and gracious to use other peoples’ money to fly himself and @StormyDaniels to my hearing,” he wrote, “the only decent thing to do is to reciprocate…so here I am at the courthouse!!!”

The trial of Mr Avenatti marks another sordid turn in the long-running Daniels-Trump-Cohen saga, which saw Mr Cohen sentenced to three years in jail for multiple offences to which he pleaded guilty – among them tax evasion and campaign finance violations related to the Daniels payment.

Since the end of his sentence late last year, Mr Cohen has been an increasingly vocal Trump critic and public figure. He is co-operating with various investigations into the former president’s personal and business affairs, and has made numerous predictions and claims about his sometime boss’s alleged involvement in financial misconduct.

Mr Cohen last year interviewed Ms Daniels on his podcast, Mea Culpa, apologising for causing her “needless pain” and thanking her for “speaking out” against the former president, whom she unsuccessfully tried to sue for defamation.

Mr Avenatti, meanwhile, has previously been convicted of using threats of reputational damage to try and extort $25m from sportswear brand Nike. He is also facing a retrial in a California case where he stands accused of swindling clients.