Michael Avenatti, the brash lawyer and cable news fixture who came to prominence after he sued President Donald Trump on behalf of an adult-film star, was arrested Wednesday in Los Angeles on suspicion of domestic violence, police said.
The Los Angeles Police Department said he was booked on a felony domestic violence charge, with a $50,000 bail.
“This is an ongoing investigation and we will provide more details as they become available,” the department wrote on Twitter. The incident happened Tuesday, said LAPD spokesman Jeff Lee.
Avenatti has made himself a nearly household name through his relentless media appearances as he represents adult-film star Stormy Daniels in two lawsuits against Trump. He has vowed to depose the president and said he is considering running for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020.
In a statement released by his law office, Avenatti said that the allegations against him were “completely bogus.”
“I wish to thank the hard working men and women of the LAPD for their professionalism,” he said. “I have never been physically abusive in my life nor was I last night. Any accusations to the contrary are fabricated and meant to do harm to my reputation. I look forward to being fully exonerated.”
Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, did not respond to a voicemail seeking comment.
The police gave few other details about the incident. In the Century City neighborhood near Beverly Hills, the area around where police said Avenatti had been arrested was quiet Wednesday night except for a couple of news media crews. Police said he had been arrested around 2 p.m.
TMZ, which first reported the arrest, had written that Avenatti was arrested after his “estranged wife” filed a felony domestic violence report, but later amended its story after his ex-wife Lisa Storie-Avenatti said through a lawyer that the assertion was not true.
“Ms. Storie-Avenatti was not subject to any such incident on Tuesday night. Further, she was not at Mr. Avenatti’s apartment on the date that this alleged incident occurred,” Storie-Avenatti’s statement said. “My client states that there has never been domestic violence in her relationship with Michael and that she has never known Michael to be physically violent toward anyone.”
Avenatti spoke briefly to reporters after he was released from custody on Wednesday evening, again thanking the Los Angeles Police Department for its professionalism.
“They had no option in light of the allegations,” he said. “Secondly, I have never struck a woman. I never will strike a woman. I have been an advocate for women’s rights my entire career.”
Avenatti is one of many media personalities who have grown into political celebrities in the contentious and lightning-quick news climate of the Trump era. His combativeness and swagger, on television, in interviews and on Twitter, have helped keep him in the public eye, and his musings about a potential presidential run have been covered extensively despite questions about his background and qualifications.
Avenatti has also launched a political action committee and spoken at Democratic events around the country. But his media savvy has also landed him in hot water. Avenatti and his client Julie Swetnick, who alleged in a sworn affidavit that she was gang-raped at a 1982 party that had been attended by Brett M. Kavanaugh, have been referred by the Republican leader of the Senate Judiciary Committee to the Justice Department for a potential criminal probe over doubts about her claims.
Avenatti continues to represent Daniels in two lawsuits against Trump, with whom she claims to have had an affair. One, claiming Trump defamed her, was recently tossed in federal court; Avenatti is now appealing the ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. The other seeks to formally invalidate a 2016 nondisclosure agreement that prevented Daniels from discussing her alleged affair with Trump in the lead-up to the election. Trump, who denies having an affair with Daniels, has said he will not enforce the agreement.
Trump lawyer Charles Harder noted that three legal motions in the cases are scheduled for oral arguments in a Los Angeles federal court on Dec. 3.
The Vermont Democratic Party announced late Wednesday that it was canceling events scheduled with Avenatti in light of his arrest.
“The Vermont Democratic Party has canceled Mr. Avenatti’s forthcoming scheduled appearances in Vermont, and will be refunding all ticket sales,” state party spokesman R. Christopher Di Mezzo said in a statement.
The Washington Post’s Noah Smith from Los Angeles and Felicia Sonmez from Washington contributed to this report.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence and would like to talk with an advocate, call 866-834-4357, TRS 800-787-3224. This free, confidential service is available 24/7 and is accessible from anywhere in Maine.