Michael Avenatti, the lawyer who represented adult film actress Stormy Daniels and previously flirted with a run for president, was arrested at a California State Bar Association disciplinary hearing while leading Democrats debated in Des Moines, Iowa.
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California arrested Avenatti during a break for an unrelated California State Bar Association disciplinary hearing, reports the Daily Beast. The association was considering placing Avenatti on “involuntary inactive status” for “using a doctored document to scam a client out of nearly $840,000,” reports the news agency.
The news agency reports:
Avenatti was taken into custody at around 6 p.m. PST. When the court resumed, his lead counsel in the disciplinary case, Thomas Warren, told the court that in connection with a criminal matter in Santa Ana, Avenatti was unable to return to court.
Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles, confirmed to The Daily Beat that Avenatti was arrested on allegations of violating the terms of his pre-trial release. Mrozek declined to go into details, as the documents in the case are under seal. “I do expect him to appear in federal court in Santa Ana tomorrow,” he said.
Avenatti’s arrest may prove to be the most interesting development in an otherwise uninteresting Democratic primary debate. Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, tweeted that Avenatti would have made the debate more interesting.
Again??? He would have been more entertaining on tonight’s #demdebate than these jokers. What happened?
Michael Avenatti Arrested by Feds at California State Bar Hearing https://t.co/87uhv63hIH
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) January 15, 2020
The lawyer has publicly flirted with running for president on two separate occasions. In the summer of 2018, Avenatti traveled to Iowa to give a speech in front of approximately 1,000 Democratic Party activists after announcing that he was considering running for president.
“I think that if the Democratic Party focuses on nominating who will make the best president, that’s going to be a critical mistake,” Avenatti told NBC News shortly before the speech.
“I think there are a lot of candidates who are going to run who would make an exceptional president. But the fact of the matter is, I don’t think that they will match up well against Donald Trump. I just don’t,” said Avenatti.
In December 2018, however, the famed lawyer announced that he had decided against the plan, citing family concerns, according to CNBC News.
“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,” said Avenatti in a letter posted to Twitter.
Please see my statement below regarding 2020. pic.twitter.com/ztCfZUY6hA
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) December 4, 2018
But not even a year later, Avenatti once again teased that he was considering a presidential run, saying the chances of him entering the race were at 50/50, reports the news agency.
“Never say never,” Avenatti told the news agency regarding his potential presidential run. “The Dems need a non-traditional fighter. They have a lot of talent but not a lot of fighters.”
“I don’t think I need to make a final decision for a number of months. I have the name ID and everyone knows I’m one of the few effective fighters that the Dems have,” said Avenatti.