On Sunday, Melendez announced that he had retained Avenatti to represent him on the matter. Avenatti confirmed in a tweet in which he also taunted Trump.
“Instead of wasting time on this, Mr. Trump should focus on the numerous other things that are of a greater priority,” Avenatti said. “Let’s start with reuniting over 2,000 children with their parents immediately.”
Avenatti, who became a fixture on cable television discussing Daniels’s claim of a decade-old affair with the president and $130,000 payoff for her silence, told the Associated Press that he took Melendez’s case because “it demonstrates the complete incompetence of the president and many of those around him.”
“And I am concerned that he will attempt to make an example out of Mr. Melendez in an effort to repair his damaged ego,” Avenatti added.
In the prank call, posted on Melendez’s podcast, he posed as Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and appeared to be patched through to Trump while the president was aboard Air Force One on his way back to Washington after a rally in Fargo, N.D.
The White House has declined to discuss the incident, which has renewed questions about security issues.
Melendez said in an interview with CNN on Friday that he was “shocked” that he was able to successfully reach the president.
“I mean, we did this as a goof; I’m a comedian,” Melendez said. “I just could not believe that it took us an hour and a half to get Jared Kushner and Donald Trump on the phone from Air Force One.” Kushner is Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law.
Besides representing Daniels, Avenatti has also taken on the cases of several dozen parents who have been separated from their children as result of Trump administration immigration policies.
Cleve R. Wootson Jr. and Felicia Sonmez contributed to this report.