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Avenatti hits Democratic National Committee meeting as he mulls presidential run

Michael Avenatti, Stormy Daniel's attorney and possible 2020 presidential candidate, speaks with Sun-Times's Lynn Sweet at the Democratic National Committee summer meeting in Chicago on August 23, 2018. | Colin Boyle/Sun-Times

Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for porn star Stormy Daniels in her case against President Donald Trump, made a surprise visit Thursday to the Democratic National Committee summer meeting in Chicago as he mulls a 2020 presidential bid.

And he told the Chicago Sun-Times he’ll be sticking around to be with the DNC members when the meeting continues on Friday at the Hyatt Regency, 151 E. Wacker Dr.

Video by Eliza Davidson

Avenatti — who zoomed to national fame as he pursued his hush-money civil case against Trump in a Los Angeles courtroom, and on endless TV spots — a few weeks ago started to explore a presidential run.

On Tuesday, Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to federal campaign finance violations by arranging payment to Daniels to stop her from talking about her relationship with Trump. On Wednesday, Avenatti was in Iowa, the state with the first presidential vote.

On Aug. 19, Avenatti was in New Hampshire, the second election on the Democratic primary-and-caucus schedule.

Asked where he was on a decision, Avenatti told the Sun-Times, “I’m continuing to seriously consider it. I’m traveling around the country, have been to a number of states talking to voters. I’m talking to party officials, and I’m going to make a determination as to whether it makes sense to actually do it or not.

“… It’s a big decision. There’s a lot of factors to take into consideration. I want to be very thoughtful about it.”

Avenatti addressed the DNC ethnic council where he talked about his immigration cases representing 70 detained mothers and children. After that, he swung by a DNC black caucus session.

As for Trump’s flip-flop statements about payments he made to women through Cohen, his fixer and personal lawyer, Avenatti said: “The statements that he makes this morning to Fox, for instance where he tries to scare the American people into believing that if he’s impeached that the economy will crater, you know it’s disgusting that the leader of the United States would actually engage in that fear mongering.

Avenatti is back in court on the Daniels case with a hearing on Sept. 10 over whether the case can go forward.

“It’s been stayed pending the criminal investigation. We’re going to make an aggressive push now to have that stay lifted. We have a pending motion to take a deposition of Michael Cohen and the president of the United States and we’re going to aggressively push to take those depositions.”

Cohen’s plea, said Avenatti, “is going to have a dramatic impact on our case. It’s going to further our case significantly. A number of the allegations that we first alleged in March when we filed have now been proven to be true. And the president’s in trouble and we’re coming for him.”

Avenatti’s arrival sparked the only buzz at the Thursday meeting, which was devoid of all other 2020 potential candidates. This DNC summer session is consumed with the dry but crucial mechanics of elections, with the November midterms being held in 75 days.

The main DNC issue here is revising rules stripping a bit of power from super delegates, the elected and appointed officials who automatically get to be delegates and cast a first ballot vote for a nominee.

A final vote is set for Saturday, the end of a road that started at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia in 2016. Candidate Bernie Sanders and his supporters argued that the super delegates were part of a “rigged system.”

Backers of Sanders, the Vermont Independent who never joined the Democratic Party, and Hillary Clinton the nominee, agreed in Philadelphia to create a “Unity Reform Commission” to propose new rules.

DNC President Tom Perez in attendance at the DNC summer meeting in Chicago on August 23, 2018. | Colin Boyle/Sun-Times
DNC President Tom Perez in attendance at the DNC summer meeting in Chicago on August 23, 2018. | Colin Boyle/Sun-Times

DNC Chair Tom Perez is seen by the handicappers at the DNC meeting as having the votes to erode the power of the super delegates by not letting them vote until a second ballot.

Perez, talking up trust and unity at a Rules and Bylaws Committee session, didn’t sue Trump’s name, but his gist was obvious.

“Our Democracy is on a 5-alarm fire and this room is full of first responders,” Perez said.