After initially denying that he had any interest in becoming a “career politician,” Michael Avenatti now says that he will become a candidate for president of the United States in 2020, challenging Donald Trump—but only if “there is no other candidate in the race that has a REAL chance at beating him,” Avenatti wrote on his Twitter account Wednesday.
Avenatti, 47, suddenly sprang onto the national stage in March, as the lawyer for AVN Hall of Famers Stormy Daniels when she filed her lawsuit against Donald Trump over a $130,000 “hush money” payment to keep quiet about a sexual encounter she had with Trump in 2006.
But through a seemingly nonstop series of TV and media appearances since then, as well as attaching himself to the cases of parents and children who had been separated at the Mexican border by Trump’s immigration policies, Avenatti has become one of the most recognizable faces, and voices, on the political scene in just a short four-month span.
He has also emerged as one of Trump’s harshest and most persistent critics, and last week began posting advice for Democrats who may run against Trump in 2020, calling on whoever runs to be “a take no prisoners street fighter who is prepared to go 15 rounds in a VERY brutal campaign. It will be a cage match like no other in modern times. The future of the republic may depend on it.”
Despite initially disavowing any intention to run for office it now appears that Avenatti sees himself as that person, even preemptively swatting down claims that he is too inexperienced in politics to run for president.
“To those that claim that only a traditional politician with ‘experience’ can beat Trump, go back & look at the results from 2016,” Avenatti wrote on Twitter. “He beat all 15 of those candidates that he faced (crushed many). If we go down the same path and are not smart, don't be surprised with the result.”
Of course, should he ultimately thrown his hat into the ring, Avenatti can expect to be attacked in ways far more serious that claims of his inexperience. Such claims against him are already starting to emerge, as federal prosecutors in Los Angeles file papers accusing Avenatti of dodging nearly a half-million in taxes and deceiving the government about when his former law firm, Eagan Avenatti LLP, would pay what it owed to Uncle Sam—and directly accusing Avenatti of “misconduct.”
“Michael Avenatti made misrepresentations to the United States that it’s [sic] claim would be fully paid," write Assistant U.S. Attorney Najah Shariff. "The misconduct of ... Michael Avenatti should not be condoned by this Court."
Avenatti immediately dismissed the accusations as “politically motivated,” and told the news site Politico that Shariff had her “facts all wrong.” The taxes in question, Avenatti said, are owed by his previous law firm. “I owe nothing personally,” he added.
Photo via NBC News Screen Capture