Michael Avenatti said the Democratic Party’s choice to take on President Donald Trump in 2020 should be a white man, according to an interview with Time magazine published Thursday.
“I think it better be a white male,” Avenatti, a 2020 potential candidate himself, said.
Avenatti said in the piece that he wished it was not the case that white men, as he and Trump are, are listened to more than people of other races and genders, but that he believed his identity was part of why he had been able to defend adult film star Stormy Daniels and immigrant mothers.
“When you have a white male making the arguments, they carry more weight,” Avenatti said. “Should they carry more weight? Absolutely not. But do they? Yes.”
In a comment to CNN about the remark, Avenatti said, “I was misquoted, and it was taken out of context.”
“A big tenet of my speeches is that we need more white men standing up and speaking up to defend women and minorities. When they do that, it carries weight among other white men,” Avenatti told CNN.
As the 2020 race begins to take shape, Avenatti has drawn attention as a potential competitor in a Democratic field that is expected to contain many prominent politicians – including women and people of color.
Avenatti rose to national prominence this year for his representation of Daniels, an adult film actress who has alleged she was paid hush money to keep silent about an affair she had with Trump about a decade ago. Trump has denied the affair took place and has blasted Avenatti repeatedly as the pugnacious lawyer continues to rail against Trump and step into the political sphere.
Avenatti was hit with a multimillion dollar judgment this week for failure to pay a former law partner, and on Thursday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley referred Avenatti and his client Julie Swetnick to the Justice Department for a possible criminal investigation over allegations they brought against now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Avenatti said in response that the referral was “completely baseless and political,” and he said in response to the judgment that “any judgment” would be deducted from money he was owed by the former partner for fraud. CNN was unable to find any case of fraud or judgment brought by Avenatti and Associates.
In the Time article, Avenatti did not commit one way or another to running in 2020, but he told the magazine that after each event he did “it puts me a little closer to actually doing it.”
CNN’s Sara Sidner and Dan Merica contributed to this report.