CNN found the next best thing to having Stormy Daniels confront Donald Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen to his face about the hush money he allegedly paid her just before the 2016 election. Anderson Cooper sat their lawyers next to each other and had them go at it for close to 30 minutes in prime time Tuesday night.
David Schwartz, identified as a friend and lawyer to Cohen, and Michael Avenatti, who has served as counsel and spokesperson for Daniels, started off their first segment cordial enough, but within a few minutes they were shouting over each other about what did or did not happen between their clients.
“Is that normal course of business for an attorney to pay it?” Schwartz asked, referring to the $130,000 Cohen paid Daniels. “No, but there's nothing illegal about it. And given the context of this relationship there’s certainly nothing unethical about it.”
If Trump didn’t know about the agreement between Cohen and Daniels, as he has tried to claim, then Avenatti asked Schwartz, “Why did Mr. Cohen draft an agreement with a signature line for Donald Trump?” In turn, Schwartz argued that Trump was a “third-party beneficiary” to the agreement and therefore did not have to actually sign it himself. He also defended Cohen’s decision to sue Daniels for $20 million for breach of that contract.
After a break, the two men continued to argue back and forth about the intricacies of the non-disclosure agreement, but when Avenatti tried to explain his side, Schwartz resorted to a different, more aggressive tactic.
“If it’s going to take that long to explain it to the judge, he’s in big trouble,” Schwartz said. “You’re going to go down in flames in this case, there’s no question about it.” When Schwartz admitted that he is merely “assuming” Daniels leaked information about her affair with Trump, Avenatti shot back, “Well, you know what they say about people who assume.”
“You’re a very passionate guy on behalf of your friend Michael Cohen. So let me and you this, if Michael Cohen is such a stand-up guy, Where is he? Where is this guy?” Avenatti said, holding up a physical poster-sized photo of Cohen. “Why won’t he come and sit in this chair? Because he’s been invited on this show many times, he’s dodging the questions. Where is this guy?”
“Believe me, he can’t wait to come here and sit with you and talk about this,” Schwartz said.
“By the way, are you licensed in California?” Avenatti asked him later. Schwartz responded, “Absolutely not,” to which Avenatti said, “You’re not licensed in California and you’re here opining and pointing your finger and engaging in all this bombastic nonsense language and you’re not even licensed?”
Ultimately, Cooper had to cut both men off and move on to another story. But it’s hard to imagine there won’t be more of this to come on CNN in the future, especially if Cohen decides to go on television to make his case.