CNN Legal Analyst Says He Felt 'Snookered' by Michael Avenatti Following Attorney's Conviction

CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said that he felt "snookered" by Michael Avenatti--who rose to fame as adult film star Stormy Daniels' then-attorney in her legal battle against President Donald Trump--following his conviction Friday in an extortion case involving sportswear company Nike.

"I remember once, at the peak of all this, we [Avenatti and I] went to lunch in Midtown," Toobin told host Anderson Cooper about the attorney's popularity at the time. "We walked back together toward CNN, and it was like walking with a major celebrity. People came up to him like: 'Go for it! Go get Trump.' He had this hashtag, #basta, people remembered that."

On Friday, Avenatti was found guilty on three counts for trying to extort athletic clothing and shoe company Nike for up to $25 million. In May 2019, the attorney was charged with wire fraud and identity theft involving his former client Daniels while she negotiated her 2018 book deal. Daniels earlier alleged that she had an affair with Trump before he became president. Avenatti, who frequently made the cable news rounds at the time, was an outspoken critic of the president.

"Frankly, you know, I feel kind of snookered, because I took him seriously," said Toobin.

The legal analyst said that there was a "pathology" to Avenatti's actions. "It's all involving stealing money," he said. "It's all involving taking money that was destined for clients, that was destined for law partners."

"I think it's clear at this point he afforded it, by taking what he wasn't entitled to," Toobin said.

He also referenced Avenatti's possible presidential run in the 2020 election. "At the peak of this, he even announced that he was considering running for president," Toobin said. "He went to Iowa. He went to New Hampshire. To call it 'hubris' doesn't do it justice--the craziness of this."

He also said that Avenatti's conviction in the Nike trial was "much worse" than his charges for embezzling money from Daniels. "The California case is much worse, because first of all, it's millions of dollars, and also, he was the lawyer in cases where there were awards to his clients, and again, he pocketed the money," Toobin said. "People in need, people who had problems, that's why they got this award in the first place. Also, stealing money from his law partners, again, millions of dollars an issue. All these sentences are based on the amount of loss, so these are big numbers."

michael avenatti
Michael Avenatti is seen on September 10, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. Avenatti was charged on Friday for extorting money from Nike. PG/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images/Getty

Meanwhile, Daniels wrote an Instagram post in response to news of Avenatti's conviction. "Sadly, it appears that what Michael Avenatti did to me was just the tip of the iceberg of deceit," she said. "I am not surprised his dishonesty has been revealed on a grand scale."

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My statement on Michael Avenatti

A post shared by stormydaniels (@thestormydaniels) on