Firebrand attorney Michael Avenatti, who got politically famous representing porn star Stormy Daniels in her legal battle with President Trump, announced Tuesday that he will not run for the White House in 2020.
Though Avenatti for weeks has been testing the presidential race waters -- along with dozens of other potential candidates -- he cited family concerns in deciding against a run.
“After consultation with my family and at their request, I have decided not to seek the Presidency of the United States in 2020. I do not make this decision lightly—I make it out of respect for my family. But for their concerns, I would run,” Avenatti said in a statement posted to Twitter Tuesday.
Avenatti had said earlier this year that he was exploring a presidential bid. Avenatti, in August, even posted a document highlighting his position on a range of issues, titled “What I Believe.”
Avenatti made clear Tuesday he's not leaving the public eye.
“I will continue to represent Stormy Daniels and others against Donald Trump and his cronies and will not rest until Trump is removed from office, and our republic and its values are restored,” Avenatti wrote. “I will also continue with my nearly twenty years of speaking truth to power and representing those who need an advocate against the powerful.”
He added: “I remain concerned that the Democratic Party will move toward nominating an individual who might make an exceptional President but has no chance of actually beating Donald Trump.”
On that point, he and Republicans agreed.
“For all of his flaws, Michael Avenatti has one thing right: the Democratic field is a disaster and the likely candidates ‘have no real chance at winning,'" Republican National Committee spokesman Michael Ahrens told Fox News.
Avenatti had pitched his brash and combative style as an asset in a hypothetical race, and suggested Tuesday the party still needs to fight fire with fire.
“We will not prevail in 2020 without a fighter,” Avenatti said. “I remain hopeful the party finds one.”
But Avenatti’s new statement comes amid a rift with Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford. She claimed that Avenatti had launched a campaign on the website CrowdJustice “without my permission or even my knowledge” after she questioned him about how money raised through an initial fundraiser had been spent. The initial fundraiser brought in a reported $580,000 toward Daniels’ expenses; the second fundraiser brought in $4,785 before the page was taken down.
Daniels also claimed that Avenatti sued Trump for defamation without her approval. A federal judge threw out that suit this past October and ordered Daniels pay the president’s legal fees.
But Daniels later walked back some of her statements. Daniels reportedly said Sunday that she and Avenatti had “straightened s—t out,” and Avenatti claimed that the pair had yet to decide whether they would seek to raise more money, noting it would be “Stormy’s decision.”
Avenatti has represented Daniels in her case against Trump and his former longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen, who paid her $130,000 in the weeks leading up to the presidential election in exchange for her silence about an alleged one-time sexual encounter with Trump in 2006.
Cohen, over the summer, pleaded guilty to tax fraud and making an excessive campaign contribution—which pointed to that $130,000 lump sum to Daniels.
Avenatti has been under scrutiny since entering the public spotlight. He was under investigation by the California State Bar for his past business dealings. That probe has since completed with no charges or actions taken against Avenatti or his license to practice law.
Avenatti also represented Julie Swetnick, one of the women who surfaced to accuse then-Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault and misconduct during his grueling confirmation process.
Swetnick claimed she witnessed Kavanaugh “spike” the punch at parties, and alleged his involvement in “gang” and “train” rapes. Kavanaugh vehemently denied those allegations, and others brought against him by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez, and was confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court in October.
But Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, referred Avenatti and Swetnick for criminal investigation in October, regarding a potential “conspiracy” to provide false statements to Congress and obstruct its investigation.
Avenatti called the referral “political,” and blasted Grassley for “making a major mistake” in filing it.
Last month, Avenatti was arrested and charged with felony domestic violence. His bail was set at $50,000, Los Angeles Police Department Officer Rosario Herrera told Fox News. He was bailed out and said he would be "fully exonerated."
"I have never struck a woman. I never will strike a woman. I have been an advocate for women’s rights my entire career and I’m going to continue to be an advocate. I am not going to be intimidated from stopping what I am doing," Avenatti said last month. "I am a father to two beautiful, smart daughters. I would never disrespect them by touching a woman inappropriately or striking a woman. I am looking forward to a full investigation at which point I am confident I will be fully exonerated."
TMZ, which first reported news of the arrest, said that the lawyer "kicked" a woman "out of the apartment." The outlet initially reported that the alleged incident involved Avenatti's estranged wife, before later describing the individual simply as a woman. The report, citing an unnamed law enforcement source, said the woman's face was "swollen and bruised."
Fox News' Samuel Chamberlain and Elizabeth Zwirz contributed to this report.