Lawyers for Michael Cohen on Friday objected to porn star Stormy Daniels' attorney being allowed to represent her in a case involving Cohen, saying his violations of "ethical rules" as well as local court rules "warrant a denial."
Cohen's lawyers accused Daniels' attorney Michael Avenatti of publishing "inaccurate statements" in an explosive report he released May 8 detailing payments made to Cohen's company, Essential Consultants.
In their filing in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, Cohen's lawyers also questioned how Avenatti could have legally obtained information contained in the report, which appears to be drawn from an unlawful leak of confidential bank records.
They also accused Avenatti, with his non-stop series of appearances on television about the case, of "smearing" Cohen in order "to further his own interest" in gaining media attention.
"To our knowledge, this Court has never been presented with clearer evidence of the deliberate creation of a carnival atmosphere and inappropriate conduct while an attorney's application for admission was pending," Cohen's lawyers wrote.
Avenatti, who is not admitted to federal court in New York, is asking Judge Kimba Wood to be admitted pro hac vice — meaning solely for the purposes of Cohen's case — to speak on Daniels' behalf.
Files related to Daniels, and to a $130,000 hush money payment she received in October 2016 from Cohen, were reportedly among documents seized from Cohen by the FBI during raids on his home, office and hotel room on April 9.
Daniels has said the money was in exchange for her silence about an affair with Trump, an affair that the White House has denied. Avenatti is representing Daniels in a lawsuit against Trump and Cohen to void the contract she signed.
While prosecutors are investigating Cohen for business dealings, as well as the payment to Daniels, they have not charged him.
Since the raids, however, there have been several court hearings and multiple legal filings related to how to handle the documents and electronic files seized from Cohen.
Trump's own lawyers, as well as lawyers for the Trump Organization, have been admitted to the case so that they can argue about documents that might be subject to protection from prosecutors' eyes because of attorney-client privilege.
Cohen's lawyers noted that Daniels has another lawyer who is admitted to New York federal court, who can speak for her if Avenatti's request for admission is denied.
The report from Avenatti's law firm publicly identified payments to Cohen's company from telecoms giant AT&T, multinational drug company Novartis, Korea Aerospace Industries and Columbus Nova, among others. All four companies said in subsequent statements that they had paid Essential Consultants for various services.
In a court filing the day after Avenatti released the report, Cohen's lawyers said that it contained "numerous inaccurate statements" — including that the report attributed other payments to Cohen that were actually sent to different people who are also named "Michael Cohen."
Avenatti responded to Cohen's lawyers on Twitter, saying "99% of the statements" in the report were accurate.
In their filing Friday, Cohen's lawyers said that, "While we recognize that pro hac vice motions are routinely granted, this is an exceptional case, and Mr. Avenatti's actions warrant a denial, particularly given his tangential relationship to this case."
The lawyers added: "Mr. Avenatti appears to have violated the Local Rules of this Court, as well as the ethical rules applicable to lawyers practicing in this District."
Trump previously told reporters he was unaware of the payment by Cohen to Daniels after it was revealed earlier this year by the Wall Street Journal.
But this week, in a financial disclosure form filing, Trump confirmed he had reimbursed Cohen for that payment. The president's new lawyer, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, had firm revealed that Trump paid Cohen back for the hush-money deal in an interview with Fox News.
A former federal judge, Barbara Jones, is currently reviewing files seized from Cohen. Jones is tasked with screening the documents for possible withholding from prosecutors due to of attorney-client privilege existing between Cohen and others.