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Avenatti: Trump aims Justice Department at political enemies

July 23, 2019 GMT
California attorney Michael Avenatti makes a statement to the press after leaving a courthouse in New York Tuesday, July 23, 2019. Avenatti is accused of cheating porn star Stormy Daniels out of $300,000 in a book deal. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
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California attorney Michael Avenatti makes a statement to the press after leaving a courthouse in New York Tuesday, July 23, 2019. Avenatti is accused of cheating porn star Stormy Daniels out of $300,000 in a book deal. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
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California attorney Michael Avenatti makes a statement to the press after leaving a courthouse in New York Tuesday, July 23, 2019. Avenatti is accused of cheating porn star Stormy Daniels out of $300,000 in a book deal. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

NEW YORK (AP) — Michael Avenatti told reporters President Donald Trump is the real criminal after the California attorney appeared at a New York hearing on criminal charges he cheated porn star Stormy Daniels of book proceeds.

Avenatti called Trump a “third-rate mobster” who has unleashed the U.S. Justice Department on his “most ardent political enemies.”

He questioned why top Trump aides and one of his sons has not been charged in connection with a $130,000 payment to buy the silence of Daniels before the 2016 presidential election.

Trump doesn’t have a high opinion of Avenatti, either. In a tweet last year, he called him “a third rate lawyer who is good at making false accusations” and “a total low-life!”

Avenatti has pleaded not guilty to charges he cheated Daniels of $300,000. Avenatti once represented Daniels regarding an alleged affair with Trump.

His court appearance was brief. A judge said she hopes to decide by October whether to move the criminal case to California.

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Avenatti faces criminal charges in New York and Los Angeles related to claims he tried to extort up to $25 million from Nike and defrauded clients in California. He denies all allegations.