Holy deja vu, Batman! Here’s a guy who owes millions in judgments and unpaid taxes, who’s filed for bankruptcy, twice divorced, wants to run for president — and his name is Michael Avenatti? Yep. And he’s been living high on the hog, while owing the IRS $2.4Mil (he disputes this because it’s his former law firm’s bill) and personal taxes of $1.2Mil. Meanwhile, he’s got two jets, race cars, and a lifestyle that would make a James Bond villain envious. Daily Beast:
“We traveled extensively throughout the world, and, when not flying privately, we always flew business class and stayed at five-star hotels,” [ex-wife Lisa] Storie-Avenatti said in the court filing, adding that they regularly visited Cabo (where they held their destination wedding and paid expenses for 20 guests), the French Riviera, and Paris.
“I had unfettered use of credit cards that were in my name. My American Express bill was historically on average of $60,000 to $70,000 per month, and was paid in full each month,” Storie-Avenatti added in court papers.
Avenatti employed a full-time pilot hired at $100,000 a year, and owned two private jets worth about $9 million, Storie-Avenatti claimed. He also retained a full-time driver paid through his firm, but she didn’t know his pay rate.
Avenatti’s ex also said that she wasn’t sure how much money Avenatti actually made because she couldn’t get a copy of his tax returns, nor could former colleague Jason Frank, who got a $4.85Mil settlement against Avenatti on Tuesday. Just like Trump, Avenatti doesn’t seem too concerned about releasing his tax returns.
During one August appearance on ABC’s This Week, Avenatti remained noncommittal on whether he’d release a cache of his tax returns as a presidential candidate. “I don’t know yet,” Avenatti told correspondent Jonathan Karl. “I haven’t decided. I’ll look at the issue. But here’s what I do know…”
“You don’t know if you’ll release your tax returns?” Karl asked. “This was a major issue with Trump.”
After Karl pressed Avenatti again, the lawyer said he’d commit to releasing some of his returns. “How will you make that judgment of how many?” Karl asked.
“I don’t know. I’m going to consult with people. We’re going to see what the standard has been over the years,” Avenatti replied, before adding: “But where are Donald Trump’s tax returns?”
If this attitude, on top of the idea of having yet another celebrity outsider run for the nation’s highest office doesn’t turn you off, take.a.look.at.this. TIME Magazine:
A run for President would thrust Avenatti into the middle of the party’s identity crisis. The Democrats have not been this powerless since the 1920s, and their members have responded by nominating a historic number of women and people of color for office. But when it comes to the party’s presidential nominee in 2020, Avenatti thinks in different terms. “I think it better be a white male,” he says. He hastens to add that he wishes it weren’t so, but it’s undeniable that people listen to white men more than they do others; it’s why he’s been successful representing Daniels and immigrant mothers, he says. “When you have a white male making the arguments, they carry more weight,” he says. “Should they carry more weight? Absolutely not. But do they? Yes.”
Avenatti’s presidential aspirations were first seen as an epic troll of Trump, and unanimously endorsed on that basis. But then something happened, and it got serious. He really believes that he’s the only one who can beat Trump.
Avenatti admits that he wouldn’t necessarily be a great President. At least one of his possible Democratic primary opponents would make a better one, he says. “But if they can’t beat Donald Trump, it doesn’t matter.” This is Avenatti’s whole argument: the Democrats have “a lot of talent, but not a lot of fighters.” If they opt for the type of pedigreed candidate both parties offered in 2016, they will get flattened by Hurricane Trump. For the demoralized left, Avenatti believes, it’s not policy or personality that’s most enticing. It’s winning.
Though Fight PAC had raised a relatively small $11,907.98 so far, Avenatti said that fundraising was “coming along pretty well.” He had not hired anyone permanently for his committee. But, he added, “I’m consulting with a number of people.” […]
Even his PAC, in its early stages, has been the subject of some backlash as Avenatti recently tweeted a fundraising appeal for Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s (D-TX) Senate campaign that, in fact, directed half the contributed money to Fight PAC.
Avenatti isn’t going to catch Trump lightning in a bottle, even if people were in the mood to have another pugilistic neophyte run for the highest office on a populist platform. Avenatti characterized the Daily Beast expose as a “hit piece” and complete garbage. He characterized the TIME Magazine piece as “a complete hatchet job” on Twitter. How many steps from there to “enemy of the people” I wonder? But this clears up the mystery of why Avenatti above all others is the perfect Trump troll: because it takes one to know one.
And maybe that’s what Avenatti is counting on with his presidential aspirations, that only a tough guy with a mouth on him and media savvy can carry the day. It’s very doubtful that it will for him. Avenatti doesn’t have Trump’s backstory. First of all, Trump was a celebrity for many years and on television for 14, secondly, he was in the shadows of the political scene for many years, even running for a time in 2000 as a Reform Party candidate, and most importantly: his win was only made possible by an extreme Obama backlash coupled with institutionalized misogyny, and Russian bots posing as the neighbors. And even with all that, it was only a marginal electoral win. Lightning isn’t going to strike twice for Avenatti and he’s deluded if he thinks so.
Avenatti says that the Democrats are “too weak” and “clueless” but where he’s clueless is that a strong opposition to Trump doesn’t mean being Trump 2.0. There is quite a difference. Any number of Democrats have been voicing strong opposition to Trump, without acting and sounding exactly like him. We don’t want to get down in the gutter with Trump, we want to take the country out of the gutter and restore it to it’s former dignity.
Avenatti’s participation in the Kavanaugh confirmation was botched. It’s widely concluded that he sealed the Kavanaugh confirmation by making it possible for the Republicans to claim a political smear campaign. Avenatti is currently mixing it up with Chuck Grassley, who wants the DOJ to investigate whether Avenatti and his client Julie Swetnick made false claims to Congress during the Kavanaugh hearing.
It’s all well and good that Avenatti stands his ground and fights for his client. He’s a lawyer, that’s what he’s supposed to do. But somehow Avenatti is not about normal advocacy anymore and all lines of demarcation between his professional life and his quixotic presidential ambitions have been erased. Like Trump, he runs on instinct, as opposed to standing for solid values, and like Trump, he believes that the best defense is a good offense, and he’s going to muscle his way through his travails and win by sheer balls alone.
Avenatti was a most attractive ally when he was trolling Trump and fighting the good fight with Stormy Daniels. He’s still to be commended for all that. But the buck has to stop somewhere and Michael Avenatti is not a populist hero for the Democratic party. Right now he’s taking the political narrative farther afield, coarsening it, rather than elevating it. He’s good at political theater, but not at clarity, or moving an agenda forward, qualities which a real leader possesses. If he wants to do an end run around the Democrats and run as an Independent, then all he’ll accomplish is to splinter off Democratic votes and hand the election to Trump on a platter. He can’t be that stupid — or could he be? Does he see himself in messianic terms? That’s what we’re going to find out.
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