Michael Avenatti, the attorney of adult film actress Stormy Daniels in her lawsuit against President Trump, was arrested Wednesday following domestic violence allegations.
According to the Los Angeles Police Department, the alleged incident occurred at a residence near Beverly Hills. After being booked on a felony domestic violence charge, Avenatti was released on $50,000 bail. Since his release, Avenatti has denied the allegations.
These charges present an embarrassing setback for the high-profile attorney who has experienced a rise to fame over the past eight months, gaining celebrity status among Democrats for his frequent attacks on President Trump as a “habitual liar,” “complete narcissist,” and “embarrassment to our nation.”
Avenatti’s attacks on Trump earned him extensive airtime on networks like ABC, CNN, and MSNBC, whose programs frequently invited him on as a guest to speak about his ongoing legal battles with the president. The attorney’s newfound status among Democrats would lead him to suggest a possible 2020 presidential run—he started his own PAC, called the Fight PAC, in August, and in November released his first political ad encouraging Americans to vote in the midterm elections. He also visited several early primary states, including Iowa, Nevada, and New Hampshire, leading some to believe his talk of running in 2020 was more than a bluff, and that the lawyer could be serious about challenging President Trump. News outlets took note and began publishing stories celebrating Avenatti’s political trajectory, with headlines like “Michael Avenatti is Winning the 2020 Democratic Primary” and “Michael Avenatti Could be the Democrats’ Trump.”
Yet in the wake of his arrest, Avenatti’s meteoric rise to fame has come crashing down.
Fallout among the attorney’s supporters has been swift: The Vermont Democratic Party cancelled two planned appearances with Avenatti this weekend and refunded all ticket sales. Avenatti remains confident that he will be exonerated of the charges and blames Trump activist Jacob Wohl for the ordeal, suggesting he was unfairly framed. “First Mueller and now me. When we are fully exonerated I am coming for you Jacob Wohl aka Surefire,” he tweeted Thursday.
Nonetheless, Democrats have been quick to distance themselves from the man they once hailed as a media-savvy, smooth-talking champ.
Actress and #MeToo activist Alyssa Milano, who led a protest with Avenatti in front of the White House in July, denounced the attorney Thursday, tweeting, “Totally disgusting. And before anyone asks me, yes, I’m disavowing Avenatti. I do not care what side he’s on.”
The domestic violence charges are not the first hit Avenatti’s reputation has taken. The lawyer’s character was brought into question earlier this fall after circulating bizarre claims of sexual misconduct against then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Following allegations brought forth by Professor Christine Blasey-Ford and Deborah Ramirez, Avenatti took on Kavanaugh’s third accuser, Julie Swetnick, as a client. Swetnick said that Kavanaugh never assaulted her, but had allegedly spiked girls’ drinks at high school parties as part of a “gang rape ring”.
During this time, Avenatti could be found pontificating on Twitter and cable news about the importance of believing women, arguing that all allegations are valid. The attorney’s tune has changed in the wake of his own arrest, as Avenatti continues to deny the allegations, claim he was framed, and insist that the woman accusing him of domestic violence is a liar.
Avenatti says he is still considering a 2020 presidential run, despite the arrest and allegations.
Avenatti’s court date is scheduled for December 5.