Stormy Daniels Doc Shows How Disgraced Lawyer Michael Avenatti Earned Her Trust: Exclusive Clip

PEOPLE obtained an exclusive peek at the upcoming Peacock documentary "Stormy," which shows Avenatti using flattery on his client before he ultimately burned her

<p>Peacock</p> Stormy Daniels and Michael Avenatti


Stormy Daniels and Michael Avenatti

A new Stormy Daniels documentary on Peacock reveals a snapshot of her early partnership with lawyer Michael Avenatti, who guided her through her legal battles with Donald Trump before turning around and burning her.

Stormy follows former adult film star Daniels after she was thrust into the spotlight in 2018, when The Wall Street Journal reported that Trump had arranged a $130,000 hush money payment to her one month before the 2016 presidential election in order to keep her quiet about an alleged sexual encounter they'd had years earlier.

When Trump denied the affair ever happened, Daniels (represented by Avenatti) sued him for defamation, losing that suit in 2018 and two later appeals. She has been collectively ordered to pay more than $600,000 of Trump's legal fees.

Related: Stormy Daniels Speaks Out After Trump Indictment amid Fears for Her Safety

The new documentary offers a peek behind the curtain as Daniels navigated the legal firestorm and tried to reinvent herself as her public profile grew — and in the process, viewers get a glimpse at her quick rapport with Avenatti, who would go on to be convicted of fraud after he stole around $300,000 of the $800,000 advance for Daniels' October 2018 book, Full Disclosure.

A clip from Stormy shared exclusively with PEOPLE shows Daniels — whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford — talking with Avenatti moments after publicly detailing her experience with Trump.

"Did you like my speech?" Daniels asks Avenatti in the clip.

"I thought it was f---ing amazing, every time you stepped up to the mic," he responds. "Every time I go out and I talk about you as a person and what you're all about — I don't have to lie, I just tell it exactly how I see it. I'm serious."

"Thank you," Daniels says, adding with a laugh, "Keep saying nice things to me, I'm gonna take my clothes off, 'cause that's my go-to defense mechanism."

Related: Melania Trump Remains 'Angry' at Donald over Stormy Daniels Drama, Is Focused on Her Son and Herself: Sources

The clip continues with voiceover from Daniels, who says that prior to meeting Avenatti, she brought her case to other attorneys — but none wanted to go near it.

"Some were just immediately, like, 'I'm sorry — too hot for us,' or, 'We need a minimum $100,000 retainer,'" she explains in the film.

The clip ends with her saying: "When I first met [Michael], I thought he was so generous by not taking more than $100 from me. He was the only person even willing to not only help me, and champion for me, but believed me."

Related: Michael Avenatti Found Guilty of Fraud and Identity Theft for Stealing from Stormy Daniels

Heidi Gutman/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Stephanie Clifford, aka Stormy Daniels, and her then-lawyer Michael Avenatti
Heidi Gutman/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Stephanie Clifford, aka Stormy Daniels, and her then-lawyer Michael Avenatti

Of course, the clip carries a sinister undertone, as viewers know that the lawyer-client relationship she once seemed fond of ultimately fell apart, when Daniels discovered that Avenatti had kept some of the money from her book deal for himself — and forged her signature to do so.

"It's never okay to steal money from a client and he forged my signature," she told NBC News at the time.

Related: Stormy Daniels' Attorney Michael Avenatti Arrested for Domestic Violence

According to the Department of Justice, Avenatti stole two installments of Daniels' book advance, totaling $297,500, and then sent to her literary agent "a fraudulent and unauthorized letter purporting to be from Daniels and appearing to bear her signature, which directed that future payments be sent to a bank account that he controlled."

The DOJ said that, once he received $148,750 worth of the advance, Avenatti "promptly spent the money to satisfy his own personal and business expenses," later obtaining a personal loan to pay Daniels back.

Avenatti served as his own counsel in his trial and grilled Daniels for hours when she was on the stand, perThe New York Times. He was sentenced to four years in prison for identity theft and wire fraud in 2022, and later received an additional 14-year sentence for stealing millions from other clients.

Related: Months After Stormy Daniels Trial, Michael Avenatti Gets 14 More Years for Stealing from Other Clients

<p>Andrew Kelly-Pool/Getty </p> Donald Trump is arraigned on 34 felony counts related to alleged hush money payments involving Stormy Daniels

Andrew Kelly-Pool/Getty

Donald Trump is arraigned on 34 felony counts related to alleged hush money payments involving Stormy Daniels

While Daniels was not successful in her lawsuit against Trump, the former president was indicted by a New York grand jury in 2023 over the allegations that he paid her off, and has since appeared in court to plead not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in the first degree.

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Stormy — which is produced by Erin Lee Carr and Sarah Gibson, and executive produced by Judd Apatow, Sara Bernstein and Meredith Kaulfers for Imagine Documentaries — premieres Monday, March 18, on Peacock.

Trump's hush money trial is set to begin this spring.

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