LOS ANGELES, CA —Southland attorney Michael Avenatti, who rose to prominence as a legal thorn in President Donald Trump’s side, announced Tuesday that he will not run for president in 2020. The announcement comes amid a swarm negative headlines surrounding Avenatti’s professional and personal life.
Last month, Michael Avenatti was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence. More recently, his highest profile client Stormy Daniels publicly criticized his handling of her dueling lawsuits with the president. As he rose to fame needling the president in court and on cable news, Avenatti floated the idea of running for the nation’s highest office. However, Avenatti said he decided not to run “out of respect for my family.”
“I will continue to represent Stormy Daniels and other against Donald Trump and his cronies and will not rest until Trump is removed from office, and our republic and its values are restored,” he said. “I will also continue with my nearly 20 years of speaking truth to power and representing those who need an advocate against the powerful.
“I remain concerned that the Democratic Party will move toward nominating an individual who might make an exceptional president but has no chance of actually beating Donald Trump. The party must immediately recognize that many of the likely candidates are not battle-tested and have no real chance at winning. We will not prevail in 2020 without a fighter. I remain hopeful the party finds one.”
Scandal and legal problems seem to have doomed Avenatti ‘s nascent political career. Last week, Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, accused Avenatti of filing a defamation suit against the president against her wishes. A judge dismissed her case, and now she could have to pay Trump’s attorneys $389,000 in legal fees.
Avenatti shot to fame with his representation of Daniels, who claims she had an affair with Trump more than a decade ago and then was paid off to keep quiet about it before the 2016 presidential election.
The 47-year-old attorney was arrested Nov. 14 in Century City and booked on suspicion of felony domestic violence — an allegation he has repeatedly and vehemently denied. The District Attorney’s Office declined to file any charges against him, referring the case to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office for consideration of possible misdemeanor charges.
The case is still under review by the City Attorney’s Office, a spokesman for the office said.
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Last month, an aspiring actress named Mareli Miniutti obtained a temporary restraining order against Avenatti. Miniutti, 24, claimed in court papers that she and Avenatti began living together in January and said they got into an argument over money, during which he allegedly called her an “ungrateful, (expletive) bitch.”
She claims in court papers that Avenatti “forcefully” hit her in the face with pillows and dragged her along the floor and into a hallway, causing scratches on her side and leg. According to her court papers, she managed to get out of the apartment and a friend eventually picked her up, after which she called police.
Avenatti’s attorneys, Evan Jenness and Richard Beada, issued a statement saying the couple had an argument, during which Miniutti “behaved in a volatile, agitated and irrational manner.”
“However, Mr. Avenatti did not inflict any corporal injury or cause any traumatic condition upon Ms. Miniutti,” they said.
Following his arrest, Avenatti told reporters, “I have never struck a woman,” and he has suggested his arrest was politically motivated.
“I never will strike a woman,” he said. “I have been an advocate for women’s rights my entire career, and I’m going to continue to be an advocate. I am not going to be intimidated from stopping what I am doing. I am a father to two beautiful, smart daughters. I would never disrespect them by touching a woman inappropriately or striking a woman. I am looking forward to a full investigation at which point I am confident that I will be fully exonerated.”
City News Service and Patch Staffer Paige Austin contributed to this report. Photo: LOS ANGELES, CA – OCTOBER 20: Michael Avenatti attends Politicon 2018 at Los Angeles Convention Center on October 20, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Politicon)