(Reuters) – Attorney Michael Avenatti, who represents adult film star Stormy Daniels in her legal battles with U.S. President Donald Trump, said on Tuesday he would not run for the White House in 2020, ending a months-long flirtation with a bid for the Democratic nomination.
FILE PHOTO: Michael Avenatti, lawyer for adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, speaks to the media outside the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles, California, U.S. September 24, 2018. REUTERS/Andrew Cullen/File Photo
Avenatti, who has been a vocal critic of the Republican Trump and has cast himself as having the fighting spirit to take him on, said in a Twitter post he had decided not to seek the presidency after consulting with his family, and “at their request.”
“But for their concerns, I would run,” he added of his family.
Avenatti’s decision came three weeks after he was arrested in Los Angeles based on allegations of domestic violence, which he has strongly denied. Los Angeles county prosecutors decided against felony charges and referred the matter to city attorneys who have yet to decide whether lesser charges are warranted.
Avenatti did not mention the arrest in his statement, which included his oft-repeated warning that the Democratic Party risked fielding a candidate lacking the killer instinct needed to defeat Trump.
More than two dozen possible contenders, including former Vice President Joe Biden and a gaggle of senators, governors, mayors and business leaders, have been jockeying for months to line up donors and evaluate their shot at the party’s nomination ahead of the November 2020 election. Many Democrats are likely to jump into the race early, within the next few months.
“Many of the likely candidates are not battletested and have no real chance at winning,” Avenatti said in his statement on Tuesday. “We will not prevail in 2020 without a fighter.”
Avenatti told CNN in October he had been traveling around the country and people were encouraging him to run. He also created a political action committee called The Fight PAC.
Avenatti came to national prominence as the lawyer for Daniels. The porn actress, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, sued Trump for defamation after he denied her assertion that she had a sexual encounter with him in 2006 and disputed her account that she was threatened in 2011 for agreeing to a press interview about the alleged encounter.
That lawsuit was dismissed by a federal judge in October. Daniels has filed a separate lawsuit over a $130,000 hush-money agreement stemming from the alleged encounter.
Avenatti said in his statement that he would continue to represent Daniels.
Reporting by Nathan Layne in New York; Additional reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Frances Kerry