Michael Avenatti, the lawyer who rose to national prominence representing adult-film actress Stormy Daniels in litigation against President Trump, said Tuesday that he would not seek the presidency in 2020, citing concerns from family members.
“I do not make this decision lightly — I make it out of respect for my family. But for their concerns, I would run,” Avenatti said in a statement in which he did not detail the concerns.
Avenatti said he would continue to represent Daniels “and others against Donald Trump and his cronies and will not rest until Trump is removed from office, and our republic and its values are restored.”
Avenatti had taken several steps in preparation of a Democratic bid for president, including visiting early nominating states and laying out positions on several key issues.
Through his advocacy for Daniels, who received $130,000 from Trump’s then-personal lawyer Michael Cohen to remain silent about an alleged affair with Trump, Avenatti became a regular fixture on cable news.
He also represented a woman who accused Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct decades ago.
Avenatti had endured a string of bad publicity in recent weeks, including an arrest in Los Angeles last month on suspicion of domestic violence, an allegation he called “completely bogus.”
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office declined to pursue felony domestic abuse charges against him and referred the case to the city attorney for possible misdemeanor charges.
Daniels also publicly deliberated parting ways with Avenatti after accusing him of filing a defamation suit against Trump against her wishes. Daniels and Avenatti have since said they have worked out their differences.
In making his case for a presidential bid, Avenatti cast himself as someone who could fight Trump on his level.
In his statement Tuesday, the lawyer voiced concern 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 battletested and have no real chance at winning,” he added. “We will not prevail in 2020 without a fighter. I remain hopeful the party finds one.”
The Republican National Committee was quick to seize on Avenatti’s assessment.
“For all of his flaws, Michael Avenatti has one thing right: the Democratic field is a disaster and the likely candidates ‘have no real chance at winning,’” RNC spokesman Michael Ahrens said in a statement.
Felicia Sonmez contributed to this report.