NEW YORK (AP) — At his fraud trial Friday, Michael Avenatti sought to portray his former client Stormy Daniels as someone who might be delusional as he questioned the porn star about her belief that she was once haunted by ghosts.
For a second day, Avenatti, who is acting as his own lawyer in the case, got to cross-examine Daniels about allegations that he stole $300,000 the performer was supposed to get from a publisher for writing a tell-all book about an alleged sexual tryst with former President Donald Trump.
He asked Daniels about stories she’s told about living in a New Orleans house in 2019 that she said was haunted. Daniels said she experienced frightening encounters, including physical attacks from invisible assailants, a doll who calls her “mommy” and the ability to communicate with dead people.
“Sometimes I record them,” she said of the conversations with the dead.
Avenatti asked if encounters in the home that she has since moved out of included “shadow figures and unexplainable sounds and voices that prowled your home.”
“Yes,” she said.
Avenatti asked if it made her life impossible.
“Correct,” she said.
And he asked if her then-partner questioned her sanity.
“Yes, this is all documented,” she said.
Avenatti asked Daniels about a story she once told in which she said she’d seen an image of a woman in her apartment who was sobbing over a dead child and cutting her wrists and then looked down and saw that her own arm was covered in blood.
He asked her if that really happened.
“Yes,” Daniels answered.
“And you don’t remember opening the drawer, taking the knife out, or cutting yourself,” Avenatti asked.
“Correct,” she said.
“And at the time you began to think that you were crazy?” he asked.
“Correct,” she answered.
He also elicited from Daniels that she was diagnosed at one point with a tumor in her head. She said the diagnosis was made by “Lisa,” who engages in holistic medicine as an energy worker and yoga instructor. The tumor, she added, has since gone away.
Avenatti is defending himself against wire fraud and aggravated identify theft charges.
He has already been sentenced to 2½ years in prison in an unrelated case in which he was convicted of trying to extort up to $25 million from sportswear giant Nike by threatening to damage its reputation if it didn’t meet his demands.
Avenatti also questioned Daniels on the stand Friday over public statements she has made in which she said she hoped he would be raped in prison.
“Yes,” she acknowledged, she had said those things.
“So you said it on our podcast and you said it on Twitter,” he asked.
“Yes,” she responded.