Michael Avenatti, who is considering a campaign for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020, is coming under scrutiny for remarks he gave to Time magazine in which he spoke about the perceived benefits of nominating a white man.
“I think it better be a white male,” he said, of the Democrats' 2020 candidate. “When you have a white male making the arguments, they carry more weight. ... Should they carry more weight? Absolutely not. But do they? Yes.”
Critics pounced on his remarks.
“Let me be unmistakably clear on something,” black activist Shaun King wrote on Twitter. “This man is a clown. He’s Better Call Saul. And now we are learning he’s also a sexist bigot.”
“You perpetuated a myth of supremacy, do you get that? Do you understand how that makes nonwhite males feel?” wrote CNN personality Bakari Sellers.
It has been a difficult week for Avenatti, whose potential candidacy has been covered extensively by national news media, despite his lack of traditional qualifications.
On Monday, Avenatti was ordered by a judge to pay $4.85 million in back wages to a former colleague at his law firm. Less than an hour later, according to the Los Angeles Times, Avenatti’s law firm, Eagan Avenatti, was evicted from its office in Newport Beach, and a judge ordered the firm to pay rent for four months.
On Thursday, Senate Republicans referred Avenatti and his client Julie Swetnick to the Justice Department for a potential criminal investigation. Swetnick was one of a handful of women to accuse then-Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh this summer of sexual misconduct when he was in high school and then in college. In what critics were quick to denounce as a political stunt, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said he believed Avenatti and Swetnick should be investigated for conspiring to give “materially false” statements to Congress.
“Well that was fun while it lasted,” Daily Beast reporter Lachlan Markay wrote on Twitter after Avenatti’s remark in Time.
Avenatti did not respond to a request for comment but responded to the criticism on Twitter.
“Let me be clear: I have consistently called on white males like me to step, take responsibility, and be a part of stopping the sexism and bigotry that other white males engage in,” he wrote. “It is especially important for them to call out other white males. I make this pt in my speeches.”