Anti-Trump attorney Michael Avenatti allowed to represent himself in ongoing trial

One of former President Donald Trump’s most vocal critics during his term in office was attorney Michael Avenatti, who represented an adult film star who allegedly had an affair with Trump several years earlier.

Now, the disgraced lawyer is facing criminal charges of stealing money from a former client — and a federal judge in New York has granted his request to represent himself for the remainder of the trial.

“Breakdown in the relationship”

According to The Hill, Avenatti will have an opportunity to cross-examine Stephanie Clifford, the Trump accuser known by her stage name Stormy Daniels, if she takes the stand to testify against him as expected.

ABC News reported that the attorney’s request came midway through the second day of proceedings in the Manhattan courtroom.

As for the allegations against him, prosecutors contend that Avenatti fraudulently kept $300,000 of the $800,000 that Clifford was set to receive as advance payment installments on the tell-all book she wrote in 2018. He is accused of forging the author’s signature on a letter to her literary agent and used the six-figure sum to fund a variety of business and personal expenses.

Judge Jesse Furman was said to be initially skeptical of the request and expressed concerns that Avenatti could use the arrangement to avoid having to testify under oath. Despite those misgivings, he ultimately granted the request.

New York Post report indicated that the attorney cited a “breakdown in the relationship” with his legal team as the reason he wanted to represent himself.

“It’s where I’m most at home”

Avenatti asserted that he “knowingly and voluntarily” arrived at his decision and was prepared to continue the trial without any delay.

He had been represented by public defenders from Federal Defenders of New York, who had been appointed to act as his defense.

For his part, Furman reportedly asked Avenatti a number of questions before granting the request and ordered the court-appointed lawyers to stay on as “standby counsel” for the remainder of the trial.

The defendant continues to proclaim his innocence, as he reiterated to reporters outside of the courthouse.

“It’s my arena,” he declared. “It’s where I’m most at home. And I think it gives me the best chance at winning. I am completely innocent.”

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