Michael Avenatti, the self-styled provocateur who is representing porn actress Stormy Daniels in her legal battles with the president, is weighing whether to move his fight with President Trump from the courtroom to the ballot box.
The lawyer said he is seriously evaluating a 2020 presidential bid and plans to arrive at a decision by early next year.
“The future of the Republic will hinge on the outcome of that race,” Avenatti said at Vanity Fair’s New Establishment Summit. “In the event that Donald Trump is the nominee on the right, it’s going to take someone very unique to beat him.”
Avenatti said only a handful of candidates, whom he declined to name, are capable of defeating Trump. But the Democratic party’s standard-bearer need to be substantially different from the 16 establishment Republicans who unsuccessfully challenged the populist in the 2016 election, he said, or even the Democratic party’s nominee, Hillary Clinton, whom he described as “the most qualified candidate ever.”
“At the end of the day, it doesn’t mater how much policy experience you have,” Avenatti said. “If you can’t beat Donald Trump in 2020 it doesn’t mater.”
Avenatti said the stakes of the 2020 race couldn’t be higher. He predicted a Trump re-election could radically alter the composition of the U.S. Supreme Court, with a potential 7-2 conservative majority, resulting in a sweeping changes for decades to come.
That’s why he’s willing to match Trump’s style of personal attacks if he elects to run.
“If we have to crawl in the gutter with this person, then that’s what we have to do,” Avenatti said. “You’re not going to beat Donald Trump with a message of universal love. This guy will eat you alive.”
Avenatti, who worked in politics in the 1990s before entering private legal practice, said he has been traveling the country, with stops in Iowa, and has been raising money on behalf of Democratic candidates through a political action committee.
When asked whether there are any indiscretions that Trump could exploit, as the president seemed to allude to in a tweet, Avenatti confessed he has not lived the life of a saint.
“I led a life. There’s a lot of things that I did that I should not have done,” he said. “I’m not concerned about large skeletons coming out of the closet. Everybody has baby skeletons under the floor board.”