Jan 14, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Avenatti names Trump in $94M claim alleging harsh jail treatment

 Michael Avenatti, attorney and founding partner of Eagan Avenatti LP, arrives to federal court in Santa Ana, California, U.S., on Tuesday, July 20, 2021.

Lawyer Michael Avenatti outside federal court in Santa Ana, Calif., last July. Photo: Kyle Grillot/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Michael Avenatti alleges in a new filing with the Federal Bureau of Prisons that he endured "brutal" jail conditions in "retaliation" for criticizing former President Trump and former Attorney General Bill Barr.

Why it matters: Avenatti, who gained notoriety as adult film actress Stormy Daniels' lawyer in lawsuits against former President Trump and was later convicted in a Nike extortion case, is seeking $94 million in damages, per Law & Crime. Barr told the New York Times Avenatti's claims were "ridiculous."

Driving the news: Avenatti alleges in the filing that Trump was "fixated" on him and that in 2019 federal prosecutors "aggressively pursued" criminal cases against him in New York and California — where he still faces charges for allegedly embezzling the money of clients including Daniels.

  • He claims he suffered ongoing "personal injuries, pain and suffering, severe mental anguish, emotional distress, indignities and embarrassment, degradation," among other problems due to his treatment, according to the filing.

Zoom in: Avenatti states that he spent about 94 days in solitary confinement or under lockdown while at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan in 2020 and was also placed in a wing alongside terrorists, rather than in the general prison population, as requested.

  • He claims when he asked for reading material he was given one book: "Trump: The Art of the Deal."

The big picture: Avenatti was sentenced to 30 months in prison last July for trying to extort Nike out of over $20 million but was later freed due to pandemic concerns and is currently in home confinement in California.

  • He's appealing his sentence and conviction in the case, CBS News notes.

For the record: Trump and Barr are named as "witnesses" in Avenatti's filing, a first step toward a possible lawsuit against the federal government.

  • The Bureau of Prisons and the Justice Department have declined to comment on Avenatti's claims. Representatives for Trump did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

Read the filing, obtained by CBS News, via DocumentCloud:

Flashback: The rise and fall of Michael Avenatti

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