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Cohen's Attorneys Say Avenatti Shouldn't Be Allowed to Appear in Manhattan Federal Court

  [caption id="attachment_27728" align="alignnone" width="620"] Michael Avenatti, attorney for Stormy Daniels, leaves the Daniel P. Moynihan Courthouse in Manhattan after a hearing in front of Judge Kimba Wood regarding a search warrant that was executed at the home, hotel and office of Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen. (Photo by David Handschuh/NYLJ)[/caption] Attorneys for Michael Cohen said Wednesday they want U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood of the Southern District of New York to deny the pro hac vice application by adult film actress Stephanie Clifford's attorney, Michael Avenatti. Cohen's team, led by McDermott Will & Emery partner Stephen Ryan, said Avenatti should be denied the ability to appear in the Southern District because of statements and material he made public Tuesday. Cohen's lawyers argued the statements and disclosures were untrue, meant to damage Cohen's reputation and based on information Avenatti possesses improperly. "Mr. Avenatti has ... deliberately distorted information from the records which appear to be in his possession for the purpose of creating a toxic mix of misinformation," Ryan said in the letter. "He has disclosed the identities of some of Mr. Cohen’s clients and has incorrectly deemed their contractual relationships and corresponding payments to be 'possibl[ly] fraudulent and illegal' without any basis to make such assertions." The information released by Avenatti showed funds flowing into the bank account of a shell company that was also used to make the $130,000 payment to Clifford, who uses the stage name Stormy Daniels, as part of an agreement to keep her from talking about an affair with President Donald Trump. Avenatti claims that a company allegedly tied to a Russian oligarch close to Russian President Vladimir Putin transferred $500,000 to Cohen's account. It was just one of a number of payments made by firms and companies that flowed through the account, according to numerous reports. In a section of Avenatti's own report, he describes what he says are possible fraudulent and illegal financial transactions Cohen was engaged in. One of the claims is of a wire transfer to Cohen from a company called Actuarial Partners Consulting into a Toronto bank account owned by a Michael Cohen. That Michael Cohen, however, is actually a foreign aid worker in Tanzania who does work for Actuarial Partners Consulting. According to an email shared with the court, the aid worker Michael Cohen "expressed grave concerns about the breach of his privacy by Mr. Avenatti’s apparently improper possession and publication of his personal bank records," according to Ryan. "Mr. Avenatti’s conduct in somehow obtaining random bank records and publishing them without proper concern for their accuracy is extremely troubling for the parties in this case, the court, and the public," Ryan said. He went on to provide three other examples involving transactions from companies in Singapore, Hungary and Taiwan that Ryan says the lawyer Michael Cohen was never part of. Ryan said that Avenatti did appear to have information from Cohen's actual bank records, including transactions with AT&T and Novartis for consultancy work by Cohen on their behalf. Ryan notes that the government, too, has been in possession of these records and others now made public since its April 9 raid on Cohen's home and offices. To Cohen's legal team's knowledge, Avenatti has made no lawful attempt to obtain the records from the government, Ryan stated. He noted reports that the U.S. Department of Treasury is investigating whether the bank records in Avenatti's possession were improperly disseminated. "If Mr. Avenatti wishes to be admitted pro hac vice before this court, he should be required to explain to this court how he came to possess and release this information," Ryan said. In an emailed statement, Avenatti called Ryan's letter "baseless, improper and sanctionable." "They fail to address, let alone contradict, 99 percent of the statements in what we released," Avenatti said. "Among other things, they effectively concede the receipt of the $500,000 from those with Russian ties.”