NEW YORK (AP) – A judge set a trial date for California lawyer Michael Avenatti on April 21 at a hearing on Tuesday in which his lawyer accused prosecutors of deceiving him on suspicion of having robbed his main client, Stormy Daniels.
Defense attorney Dean Steward told US District Judge Deborah Batts that before a trial can go ahead, he will file a motion accusing the government of conducting “vengeful prosecution” against Avenatti.
Avenatti “has made very, very powerful enemies,” including President Donald Trump, Steward said. The lawyer also called Attorney General William Barr a “little dog” for Trump.
US Deputy Attorney Matthew Podolsky responded by calling the vindictive prosecution’s claim “frivolous” and saying it would have “no merit” in court.
After being indicted in May, Avenatti pleaded not guilty to withholding $ 300,000 owed for a book deal to the porn actress, who gained fame after claiming a relationship with Trump.
Avenatti lashed out at Trump out of court on Tuesday, telling reporters: “I’m fighting for my freedom. America’s greatest criminal occupies the White House … Welcome to Russia. “
Avenatti also denied allegations in a separate Manhattan case of attempting to extort Nike for $ 25 million and allegations in Los Angeles of defrauding millions of dollar customers.
Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign funding charges last year in connection with the money paid at the height of the 2016 presidential campaign to Daniels and model Karen McDougal, who also claimed to have had a relationship with Trump.