Three weeks ago, adult film star Stormy Daniels and her attorney, Michael Avanetti, released a forensic sketch of a man that Daniels says threatened her in 2011 — a threat allegedly made in the name of Donald Trump. At the time, Daniels was cooperating with the tabloid InTouch Weekly for a story about her alleged sexual encounter with Trump in 2006.
Now, Avenatti says that his investigation has narrowed the list of possible suspects down to only “two or four individuals,” and the man who threatened Daniels may be connected to a mixed martial arts league once partially owned by Trump, according to a lengthy interview with Avenatti published Monday by The Daily Beast. That entire interview can be read online at this link.
The assailant in the sketch, according to Daniels’ account, accosted her in a Las Vegas parking lot and warned her to “leave Mr. Trump alone.” Daniels, who legal name is Stephanie Clifford, was with her then-infant daughter. The man told her, “That’s a beautiful little girl. It’d be a shame if something happened to her mom,” according to Daniels’ recollection.
In the Daily Beast interview, Avenatti hinted that the man may have some connection to Affliction Entertainment, an MMA promotion affiliated with Trump that was founded in 2008, but went belly-up about a year later, two years before Daniels says the threat against her took place.
“There may be a link between the MMA league — or business — and the threat. We don’t know that yet,” Avenatti said. “But it has crossed our mind as well. Though to be clear, the individual that approached her at her car was not the gentleman [Fedor Emelianenko] that was widely reported recently as being questioned by the FBI.”
Emeliankeno, a Russian MMA star, who is known as a favorite of his country’s president, Vladimir Putin, was signed to a headlining contract with Affliction, shunning the sport’s top promotion, the UFC.
The chief operating officer of Affliction Entertainment was Trump’s personal lawyer and “fixer,” Michael Cohen, who, in 2016, paid Daniels $130,000 in “hush money” to keep her quiet about the alleged 2006 affair with Trump. Cohen is now under criminal investigation in New York, possibly in connection with the Daniels payoff.
Daniels is suing Trump and Cohen to get out of the “hush” agreement she signed in exchange for the payoff. She and Avenatti have also filed a separate lawsuit against Trump charging that he defamed her by, in effect, calling her a liar when he claimed in an April 18 Twitter post that the forensic sketch of the threat suspect was “a con job” and that the man depicted in the sketch was “non-existent.”
During the final week of April, FBI agents questioned Emeliankeno in his Chicago hotel room. The subject of that interview has not been made public, but the FBI agents questioned the 41-year-old MMA star less than three weeks after federal agents raided Cohen’s office, home, and New York hotel room, seizing thousands of documents including material relating to the Daniels payoff.
In his interview with the Daily Beast, Avenatti said that he has narrowed the list of possible threat suspects down to just a few.
“We’ve offered a $131,000 reward. And we’ve received thousands of leads in response to the release of the sketch,” Aventaii said. “Many of those were dismissed pretty quickly. I would classify it as about 300-400 that have deserved serious inquiry. From that group, there has emerged two to four individuals that we’re taking a really hard look at right now.”
Trump was not a presidential candidate in 2011, but he had publicly speculated about a possible run for president and Cohen created a website titled, ShouldTrumpRun.org. One poll showed that if Trump had declared his candidacy at that time, he would have become the instant frontrunner for the 2012 Republican nomination.