Stormy Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti requested a meeting last week with Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, and one of Cohen’s lawyers, to discuss a possible settlement with the adult film star.
Brent Blakely, a California-based attorney who represents Cohen in Daniels-related matters, told CNN on Tuesday that Avenatti asked for an in-person meeting and one was scheduled for this week in New York, but subsequently canceled by Blakely.
Daniels launched a lawsuit against Trump in March over a 2016 “hush agreement,” in which Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 in exchange for her silence about her alleged 2006 affair with Trump. Daniels has subsequently sued Cohen for defamation and collusion.
Avenatti’s desire to meet with Cohen and Blakely to discuss a potential settlement is previously unreported. A settlement would be a stunning development in what has been a protracted and highly public feud between Avenatti and Cohen. The Daniels saga has caused countless headaches for the Trump White House and raised serious questions about Trump’s credibility.
Separate from the Daniels lawsuits, Cohen is currently under criminal investigation in the Southern District of New York.
The discussions were prompted by an encounter Avenatti and Cohen had at a Manhattan restaurant July 16, Blakely said.
CNN previously reported that Cohen was having dinner at Scalinatella on the Upper East Side with his son, when Avenatti walked into the restaurant, according to a source briefed on the encounter. Avenatti approached Cohen’s table and suggested that the two men resolve their differences and work together, the source said — a characterization that Avenatti rejected as a “complete fabrication.”
Blakely said it was following this encounter that he reached out to Avenatti to request that he not communicate with Cohen.
“Upon learning of Mr. Avenatti’s discussion with Mr. Cohen last week, I called Mr. Avenatti and asked that he direct any future communications regarding the Clifford litigation to my office, and not to my client. Mr. Avenatti agreed to do this and then requested that we have an in-person meeting in New York to discuss settlement,” Blakely told CNN.
“Our discussions were cordial and professional, and we agreed that it would be a good idea to discuss the possible resolution of the dispute,” he added. “While we did take steps to schedule a meeting, it never occurred.”
Asked whether he and Cohen were open to settling with Daniels, Blakely said: “As with any case, I’m always open to discussing settlement. Not only are such discussions a good idea, they are required under the Local Rules of the Court.”
Avenatti responded by calling Blakely’s statement “not entirely accurate.”
“Brent Blakely is dishonest,” Avenatti said. “I’m not going to get into the details of all of the lies told by Michael Cohen and his lawyers.”
Pressed on whether Avenatti and Daniels are open to settling with Cohen, Avenatti said: “We don’t do settlements with people who continue to lie to the American people, which is what Michael Cohen wants to do. He needs to stop playing games and courting a pardon from Donald Trump and do the right thing.”
Blakely told CNN that Avenatti’s request for an in-person meeting with Blakely and Cohen to discuss a potential settlement happened over the phone, and a meeting was tentatively scheduled for this week. Blakely said he called Avenatti to cancel the meeting on Sunday after Avenatti’s appearance on ABC News’ “This Week.”
Avenatti tweeted on Monday screenshots of text messages between himself and Blakely, in which the two men appear to be discussing arrangements for the meeting. Blakely also confirmed the authenticity of the text messages. Avenatti also said he didn’t do anything wrong in communicating with Cohen at the restaurant.
“I don’t appreciate people making false ethics accusations. If Mr. Cohen and Mr. Blakely were upset about me speaking with MC (they weren’t), then why didn’t they say anything before today?” Avenatti wrote on Twitter. “And why were they working on setting up a mtg with me after we met at the restaurant?”
Over the weekend, Avenatti said on “This Week” that Cohen and his lawyers may be open to cooperating.
“I think he’s (Michael Cohen) going to tell the truth, and ultimately I think he’s going to cooperate with us as it relates to our search for the truth,” Avenatti said.
In response to Avenatti’s ABC interview, Blakely said in a statement: “Neither myself or Mr. Cohen have provided any information to Mr. Avenatti, are in any way cooperating with Mr. Avenatti, or have any interest whatsoever in cooperating with Mr. Avenatti to the detriment of President Donald Trump. Mr. Cohen’s legal matters will not be tried in the court of public opinion, but in a court of law.”