Keith Davidson, the Hollywood lawyer who represented both Stormy Daniels and former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal when each received separate “hush money” payoffs to sign deals silencing them over their alleged sexual affairs with Donald Trump, gave an interview to CNN on Wednesday in which he claimed that the “whole truth” has not yet been told about the Daniels and McDougal cases.
But Daniels’ current lawyer, Michael Avenatti, slammed Davidson for giving the interview to CNN, calling it a bizarre breach of legal ethics. Lawyers are generally bound by attorney-client privilege to remain silent about discussions with clients and any actions taken on their behalf.
During the interview, Davidson appeared to reveal that he was unusually close to Trump’s personal attorney and self-described “fix it guy” Michael Cohen. In fact, Davidson told CNN that it was Cohen who encouraged him to go public with details of the Daniels and McDougal deals.
Cohen attempted to persuade Davidson that both Daniels and McDougal had forfeited their attorney-client privilege by speaking publicly about their alleged affairs with Trump and the subsequent hush money payoffs, Davidson said, adding that Cohen encouraged him to “spill my guts” about the deals.
Davidson also admitted that after he arranged a $150,000 payoff for McDougal, in which she sold her story to The National Enquirer (which then suppressed it), he placed a phone call to Cohen letting him know that the deal had been done.
In her lawsuit seeking to be freed from her deal with the Enquirer, McDougal has accused Davidson of “colluding” with Cohen to “pressure” her into signing the deal with the tabloid, while lying to her and only “pretending” to represent her interests.
Cohen, however, has spoken highly of Davidson, calling him “a tireless advocate for his clients.”
Davidson no longer represents either Daniels or McDougal, and Daniels current attorney Michael Avenatti appeared on CNN later on Wednesday to blast Davidson as “an absolute tool.”
"He was in contact with Mr. Cohen, who's encouraging him to go out on television and tell a story, presumably to support Mr. Cohen," Avenatti told CNN interviewer Anderson Cooper. "It raises a whole host of suspicions about exactly what's been going on between these two attorneys.”
Avenatti noted that Cohen himself has yet to appear in any media forum to discuss either the Daniels or McDougal cases, and he accused Cohen of “trying to act as a puppeteer,” coaxing Davidson into speaking publicly to defend the deals.
“For him to go out and comment on two matters, one for McDougal and one for my client, after he was terminated from both cases… is really outrageous," Avenatti told Cooper. “It's unethical and there's going to be serious consequences that result from it. I'm shocked."
Davidson, who described himself as being in “the secrets business,” was handed a 90-day suspension in 2010 for four counts of legal misconduct in three cases. According to an investigation by The Smoking Gun news site, Davidson is currently the target of three lawsuits, including one by pro wrestling star Hulk Hogan stemming from the release of a sex tape in which Hogan appeared.
The Smoking Gun investigation also alleged that Davidson has “apparently engaged in the kind of activities that result in severe disciplinary sanctions, such as directing clients to lie, splitting legal fees with non-lawyers, defying a judicial injunction, and practicing law while under suspension.”
Pictured: Keith Davidson