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Disgraced lawyer Michael Avenatti will represent himself against Stormy Daniels

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Photographer: Kyle Grillot/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Michael Avenatti, the once-prominent attorney, is going through another criminal trial. However, this time, he is representing himself in Manhattan federal court against the client who propelled him into the limelight, former porn star Stormy Daniels.

Avenatti’s representation of Stormy Daniels in a 2018 lawsuit against former-President Donald Trump established him as a celebrity among many individuals in left-wing political circles. For months, Avenatti would appear as a guest on cable news and talk shows as he worked to invalidate a non-disclosure agreement that prevented Daniels from speaking about an alleged affair she had with Donald Trump nearly a decade before he launched his political career.

For a while, some in the media touted Avenatti as a possible 2020 presidential candidate.

Avenatti is accused of stealing money from the advance Daniels received for her autobiography resulting in charges of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, the Guardian reports.

This is the third of four federal criminal trials involving Avenatti.

Tuesday, during the second day of the trial, U.S. District Judge Jesse M. Furman granted Avenatti’s request to represent himself after the former pseudo-celebrity cited a “breakdown” in communications with his attorneys and intense disagreements over trial strategy.

Initially, Judge Furman told Avenatti that his right to represent himself would be “sharply curtailed” once this trial began. However, the judge has since granted his request to act as his own lawyer. Avenatti served as his own counsel for over a month last July.

After Avenatti requested to represent himself, Judge Furman gave him a quiz to determine whether or not he was mentally sound enough to act as his own attorney.

According to the Guardian, Assistant Attorney Andrew Rohrbach said, “This is a case about a lawyer who stole from his client. A lawyer who lied to cover up the scheme.”

On Monday, Daniels alleged that her former lawyer, Avenatti, stole roughly $300,000 of the pornographic actress’ $800,000 book advance.

According to the New York Post, Daniels is expected to be the prosecution’s star witness, and as Avenatti is now his own legal counsel, he is expected to cross-examine his former client.

Federal prosecutors allege that Avenatti forged Daniels’ signature on official correspondence with a literary agent as he attempted to redirect money from her advance into an account which he controlled. According to the indictment, Avenatti then spent this money on payroll for his law firm, lease payments on a luxury vehicle, and other personal expenses.

In a federal trial last July, Avenatti was found to have attempted to extort millions of dollars from the athleticwear company Nike.

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