VINDY EXCLUSIVE | Avenatti aiming for successful Dem candidate
By Amanda Tonoli
Donald Trump’s presidency has brought a sense of urgency to the Democratic Party to find the right candidate to run against him in the 2020 election, Atty. Michael Avenatti says.
“I don’t think the country can afford another four years of Donald Trump beyond 2020,” he said Wednesday during an exclusive interview with The Vindicator at a Canfield hotel.
Avenatti has become best known as the attorney for adult film actress Stormy Daniels – aka Stephanie Clifford – in her lawsuits against Trump over an alleged affair in 2006. He’s in town to meet with Mahoning County Democratic Party Chairman David Betras after a visit with Columbus City Police about Daniels’s recent arrest at a strip club there where she was performing.
Police alleged Daniels touched a patron at the “sexually oriented” business in violation of the law commonly known as the Community Defense Act, according to the Associated Press in Columbus.
Charges were later dropped.
Avenatti said the July 11 arrest was a set up and politically motivated.
“The arresting officers are big Donald Trump supporters [who] decided they were going to make an example out of her and embarrass her,” he said.
Although Avenatti said he won’t detail how he came to represent Daniels, he wanted to make clear what didn’t happen.
“No left-wing political group put me in touch with Stormy Daniels,” he said. “No big-wig donor put me in touch with Stormy Daniels. Tom Steyer did not put me in touch with Stormy Daniels. I think we’ve shot down 90 percent of the conspiracy theories.”
Steyer is a leader of an anti-Trump ad campaign.
His experience in working with Daniels has been both a tremendous amount of work, and intense – as well as fun, Avenatti said.
“Stormy is an intelligent woman with significant fortitude, strength and courage, and I’ve enjoyed that immensely,” he said. “I think that at the end of the day – when all is said and done – a lot of people will owe a lot of gratitude to Stormy because she has taken considerable steps to hold this president accountable. At the end of the day, her actions and my actions may very well lead to the downfall of the president... . Make no mistake about it, I’m going to put this president on trial one way or the other.”
To gain his presidency, Trump “conned a lot of people into voting for him,” Avenatti contended.
“He promised a lot of things that he cannot and will not deliver, and he’s disrespected the office of the presidency,” he said. “I went to sleep on election night with the hope that the office would change the man, but the man is changing the office.”
But Trump’s future in the office beyond his first term is dim, Avenatti predicted.
“I don’t think he’ll be reelected, provided the Democratic Party runs the right candidate against him,” he said.
That candidate might be Avenatti himself.
“I’m going to consider it, depending on who the candidates are that throw their hat in the race,” he said. “I will strongly consider it, provided that there’s not a candidate I think can actually beat him. I believe I can beat him – absolutely.”
“As it relates to 2020, in my view, the two most important questions are: Can or will the candidate be a better president as it relates to values and morals and compassion and intelligence? And secondly, and most importantly, can the candidate actually beat Donald Trump in the 2020 general election? You can have all political experience in the world, and you can have all the policy ideas in the world, but if you can’t beat Donald Trump in the general election in 2020, none of that matters.”
Avenatti will be the keynote speaker at the Mahoning County Democratic Party Chairman’s Dinner on Aug. 6. Chairman Betras has not yet released details of the event.