Michael Avenatti is either telling a very salacious tale or is a very connected man, because he seems to appear on cable news about as often as I eat meals.
I’m going to assume it’s probably some confluence between the two, since Stormy Daniels’ lawyer has been a ubiquitous presence on television since early this year.
But it appears as if Avenatti’s connections don’t stop with the media. They go well beyond that, and they tie him to a major Clinton Foundation donor and one of the professors that the Trump dossier hinges upon.
While rich and connected people tend to also know other rich and connected people, this isn’t just guilt by association. There’s currently a great deal of speculation about where Avenatti got the money to represent Daniels — and while he claims he got it from crowdfunding and Daniels herself, there’s a fair amount of doubt regarding this.
Avenatti, 47, is known to be an avid sports car racer, even having raced at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2015. One of his co-drivers in that event was none other than Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Saud, a member of the Saudi royal family:
And Al Saud is not just any member of the royal family. He is the son of Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud, who led Saudi Arabia’s intelligence at the time of the 9/11 attacks.
Turki also a big fan of the Clinton Foundation, as foreign eminences tended to be before Nov. 8, 2016.
“Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former ambassador to the U.S. and member of the Saudi royal family who has attended annual meetings of the Clinton Global Initiative, made donations in 2013 and 2014, though exact dates aren’t available,” the Wall Street Journal reported in 2015.
The Journal also reported that Turki had met Bill Clinton when both were studying at Georgetown. At the time of the article, Turki’s staff declined to comment on the donations or his relationship with either Clinton.
We also now know that Clinton’s campaign had paid for Fusion GPS to assemble the Trump dossier. Part of the dossier focused on Joseph Mifsud, a mysterious Maltese professor who allegedly has links to the Kremlin and told former Trump adviser George Papadopoulos about “dirt” Russia may have on Hillary Clinton.
A relatively flamboyant figure during his time in academia (particularly given a dearth of intelligent work on his part), Mifsud has gone into hiding since the Trump dossier was released. During a long and sketchy academic career, the BBC reports that one of Mifsud’s jobs was in Riyadh, where he was under a Saudi think-tank led by none other than Prince Turki al Faisal.
Interesting connection: The Saudi Prince tied to Avenatti is also connected to Joseph Misfud, who is the professor linked to the supposed origins of the "Trump-Russia" dossier. Mifsud worked for al-Faisal's Riyadh-based think tank.https://t.co/ArRHCI0UnThttps://t.co/pHXE3Vvmca
— Jordan Schachtel (@JordanSchachtel) May 13, 2018
This doesn’t necessarily link Avenatti directly to the Clinton Foundation nor does it link the Clinton Foundation to Mifsud’s participation in the Trump dossier. But it raises serious questions about when Avenatti was the recipient of an awful lot of data that your average lawyer wouldn’t know.
In a piece for The Hill last week, Op-Ed contributor Mark Penn questioned just how Avenatti had come across the “detailed financial information” to file a report on money received by Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, arguing that “he didn’t find it on Google.”
“This is the kind of information that would have been known only by the Treasury Department, his banks or by prosecutors, raising some serious questions about what kind of operation Avenatti is running. Is there a team of people digging this up? Are they paying off sources? Is Fusion GPS involved?” Penn wrote.
An awful lot of questions about Avenatti’s sudden rise to media cynosure need to be answered, and they don’t stop with where his money came from. Avenatti claims he’s received payment for the Daniels case from the porn star herself and from crowdfunding, although Daniels has previously said she isn’t paying for her representation and crowdfunding generally doesn’t buy the kind of enthusiasm and omnipresence Avenatti has brought to the case.
Is there any connection to the Clinton Foundation or Fusion GPS? It could simply be randomness, but some sort of legitimate connection is far from out of the question, especially given the quality of opposition research Avenatti — heretofore mostly a high-end cultural ambulance chaser — seems to have been able to dredge up. For all of his loquaciousness, Avenatti seems loath to discuss details about how he got involved in the case and who’s paying for him.
Those are questions we wouldn’t mind having answered in a little more detail the next time that he makes one of his many appearances on CNN. If this were a lawyer associated with Trump and these kind of connections had surfaced regarding the Saudi royal family and Mifsud, the mainstream media would be all over this, particularly if said lawyer was practically camping out on their newsroom floor.
It’s time for the media to step up and do its job.
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