Avenatti in Iowa, 'exploring' a White House run

Politico 5 days ago

Michael Avenatti, the attorney representing adult film actress Stormy Daniels in her lawsuit against President Donald Trump, was in Iowa Thursday, where he told reporters that he is considering running for president in 2020.

"I’m exploring a run for the presidency of the United States, and I wanted to come to Iowa and listen to people and learn about some issues that are facing the citizens of Iowa and do my homework," Avenatti told the Des Moines Register on Thursday.

The Los Angeles-based lawyer toured the Iowa State Fair, a traditional stop for presidential candidates in the state that hosts the nation’s first presidential caucus each election cycle, on Thursday. He is scheduled to speak Friday night at the Democratic Wing Ding fundraiser in Clear Lake, Iowa, an event that hosted Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders in 2015 and former President Barack Obama in 2007.

Avenatti was accompanied in Iowa by Matt Paul, a Democratic strategist who worked on Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, according to The New York Times. Avenatti told the Times he would visit New Hampshire, which hosts the nation’s first presidential primary every four years, “within the next month.”

Avenatti has risen to prominence in recent months as one of the president’s most outspoken legal foes, making regular cable news appearances in defense of Daniels, who is suing the president and his longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohen, to be released from a nondisclosure agreement related to a one-night sexual affair she claims to have had with Trump.

Daniels is also suing the president for defamation over a post to his Twitter account in which he labeled her account of a man attempting to intimidate her on Trump’s behalf in a Las Vegas parking lot a “total con job.” The venue for that lawsuit was recently shifted from New York to Los Angeles.

Avenatti, who also represents multiple other women who claim to have been paid off to keep quiet about affairs with the president, has drawn scrutiny from some who have suggested his aggressive representation style amounts to an effort to raise his own public profile. He has maintained that he has only acted in his clients’ interest.

Likewise, Avenatti insisted that his flirtation with a presidential bid is not a publicity stunt. Instead, he said his Iowa visit was a good-faith effort to plant seeds for a White House run in 2020. He told reporters that “I would like to think people would take me seriously.”

"I would never think to come to Iowa in order to use the state or the people of the state to raise my profile," he said. "And obviously if I do this, then I intend to work hard and I know that ultimately the trust of the citizens of Iowa is going to have to be earned."

"I think there’s a huge appetite within the party for a fighter," he continued. "I think the party has yearned for a fighter — a fighter for good, if you will — for a significant period of time. And for many, I’m probably seen as that individual."

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