President Trump has an early opponent emerging for the 2020 presidential election: Stormy Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti.
Avenatti, who’s risen to national fame as the porn star’s attorney amid the tempest of legal claims she’s made against the president, tweeted Wednesday that he will run if there is no other candidate “that has a real chance of beating” Trump.
He said “only a street fighter has a chance at displacing the ‘King’” and that he feels a moral obligation to run against Trump.
Avenatti has been an outspoken critic of Trump amid Daniels’ ongoing claims against Trump following an alleged 2006 affair.
He said he wants to stop Trump before the country “and its principles will be in pieces.”
The news of his possible run comes as the Justice Department claimed Avenatti is in trouble with his taxes. Justice officials say Avenatti misrepresented information in a bankruptcy case involving his former law firm that owes more than $440,000 in unpaid federal taxes.
Avenatti’s former firm, Eagan Avenatti LLP, had agreed in January to pay about $2.4 million in back taxes and penalties as part of a resolution of a bankruptcy case involving the firm.
Court documents show some of the money was paid, but attorneys for the government said in May that the firm still owed a portion of the unpaid tax money.
On Tuesday, the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles filed a motion asking a federal judge to compel the payment of $440,291 in unpaid taxes and more than $11,700 in interest. Lawyers from the U.S. attorney’s office represent the government in bankruptcy court when there’s a debt to a government agency, like back taxes or unpaid student loans.
Avenatti says the court filing is “part of a smear campaign” and stressed that he doesn’t personally owe any of the money.
“There is no question this is politically motivated,” he said. “I do not owe anything personally. And any representation to the contrary is completely false.”
Court documents say Avenatti is the “managing member and majority equity holder” of Eagan Avenatti and “solely owns and controls” another firm, Avenatti & Associates, which represents Daniels.
“The debtor and its responsible officer Michael Avenatti have deliberately made no attempts to pay the delinquent amount which they previously agreed to do by stipulation,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Najah Shariff wrote.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Catherine Bauer set a hearing for July 25.