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Michael Avenatti Cross-Examines Stormy Daniels During His Trial

Early in Michael Avenatti’s cross-examination on Friday of his former client Stormy Daniels, he asked her whether, a few years earlier, a “dark entity” had entered her home through a “portal.”

“That’s what I was told by a medium,” Ms. Daniels replied.

It was the second day of testimony for Ms. Daniels, a pornographic film actress who spent hours in Federal District Court on Thursday being questioned by a prosecutor about her communications in 2018 and 2019 with Mr. Avenatti, whom she has accused of stealing from her when he served as her lawyer.

Mr. Avenatti had represented Ms. Daniels in a lawsuit filed against former President Donald J. Trump. Ms. Daniels said that shortly before he was elected president, Mr. Trump had used a $130,000 payment and an accompanying nondisclosure agreement to try to stop her from talking about a sexual encounter with him that had taken place years earlier.

The lawsuit that Mr. Avenatti filed in early 2018 said the nondisclosure agreement had no force because Mr. Trump had not signed it.

Ms. Daniels and Mr. Avenatti accused Mr. Trump of using bullying tactics and became prominent figures in what was sometimes described as “the resistance” to Mr. Trump’s policies and presidency.

During that time, Mr. Avenatti also helped Ms. Daniels secure a contract for a book with St. Martin’s Press.

Now Mr. Avenatti is standing trial in Manhattan, charged with wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. Prosecutors have said he used a fake letter to obtain about $300,000 in payments meant for Ms. Daniels from her literary agent.

In her testimony on Thursday, Ms. Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, said that Mr. Avenatti had repeatedly lied to her, even as she asked for his help in getting the publisher to hand over what she believed were missing payments.

Just before that court session ended, Mr. Avenatti, who is representing himself, began cross-examining Ms. Daniels, a dramatic moment in which the two former allies came face to face across a courtroom.

Mr. Avenatti quickly alluded to Ms. Daniels’s belief in the occult, asking about her claim that she can see and speak to dead people. Ms. Daniels acknowledged having said that, explaining that she was part of a project called “Spooky Babes” that focused on paranormal activity.

On Friday morning Mr. Avenatti quickly returned to that topic, asking Ms. Daniels about “unexplainable and frightening experiences” in her home in New Orleans that were cited on the “Spooky Babes” website, including “poltergeist” phenomena, “shadow figures,” and sounds and voices that had “invaded” her life.

Ms. Daniels acknowledged saying that a friend had physically attacked her after the “dark entity” entered her home, and that she had seen in her kitchen an image of a woman crying over a dead child. She also said that she had the ability to speak with people who had died.

“How do you speak with the dead?” Mr. Avenatti asked.

“I don’t know,” Ms. Daniels replied. “It just happens sometimes.”

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