The inspector general for the Treasury Department is investigating how porn star Stormy Daniels’ lawyer obtained the private banking information of President Donald J. Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.
“The source or sources of our information is our work product, and nobody’s business,” Michael Avenatti said.
Avenatti recently released private information regarding banking transactions, including one $500,000 payment from a Kremlin-linked billionaire, made to Cohen’s firm. Included in Avenatti’s report were five total transactions, some of which belonged to the wrong Michael Cohen, according to Cohen’s lawyers.
“Mr. Avenatti has made numerous incorrect statements to the public in an apparent attempt to prejudice and discredit Mr. Cohen on this matter,” his lawyers wrote in a complaint filed in federal court. “[He] deliberately distorted information from the records which appear to be in his possession for the purpose of creating a toxic mix of misinformation.”
One of the mistaken Michael’s was 26-year-old Michael Cohen of Ashdod, Israel.
“I am an Avionic technician in El Al airlines. So, no, not a lawyer,” he told NBC News. “No, I never talk with or meet Trump.”
According to the Washington Post, the leaked information appears to be from a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR), which banks are required to report when transactions are flagged for potentially criminal activity. But given the mixed up Cohen’s, it is unclear the reports are linked to Trump’s lawyer, or one of the other Cohen’s caught up in the report.
The Israeli Cohen received two payments of $980 from Kenya, which could easily be flagged as suspicious.
Obtaining and leaking private banking information is a potentially serious crime, but there is little surprise that Avenatti would make that information public. The slippery barrister has exploited his attorney/client relationship with a famous porn star for his own publicity. He is a frequent guest on cable news.
“They can investigate all they want, but what they should be doing is releasing to the American public the three Suspicious Activity Reports filed on Michael Cohen’s account,” Avenatti said. “Why are they hiding this information?”