Keeping up with Michael Avenatti
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It’s a challenge keeping up with even an uncaffeinated Michael Avenatti.

Now a virtual cable news fixture, the lawyer for Stormy Daniels had just gotten in the nation’s capital for a recent trip when ITK speed-hustled (in heels) with him from his downtown Washington hotel to a nearby Starbucks.

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Daniels, the adult film star Avenatti represents, is locked in a legal battle with President TrumpDonald John TrumpAustralia recognizes West Jerusalem as Israeli capital, won't move embassy Mulvaney will stay on as White House budget chief Trump touts ruling against ObamaCare: ‘Mitch and Nancy’ should pass new health-care law MORE and his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen. Daniels, who says she had a 2006 affair with Trump, is suing the president and Cohen for defamation and to void a $130,000 nondisclosure agreement, which was made just weeks before the 2016 presidential election.

Between the beyond-high-profile case and his flirtation with a 2020 White House bid, R&R for Avenatti has been rather elusive.

Normally, the 47-year-old lawyer enjoys hitting the gym and hanging out with his kids and close pals. 

“I have a close circle of friends, these are people I’ve known a long time, I like to spend time with them,” he says.

“I like to travel,” he adds, but, in part due to security concerns, “I’m not able to travel now.”

On the streets of D.C. — which voted 91 percent for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonLanny Davis says Nixon had more respect for the Constitution than Trump Clinton commemorates Sandy Hook anniversary: 'No child should have to fear violence' Sanders, Warren meet ahead of potential 2020 bids MORE in the 2016 election — Avenatti receives a rockstar-like welcome.

Cars honk as drivers recognize his signature shaved head as he darts across K Street. After ordering a triple espresso for “Mike,” ITK’s interview is momentarily interrupted by a super fan.

“You should run for president!” a 20-something man advises Avenatti. “You should go for it."

When ITK quips that Avenatti could’ve planted the groupie, the lawyer grins with a wink before jesting back: “He was 10 minutes late!”

Asked about the Avenatti mania that seems to trail him — ITK recalled him being hounded by admirers earlier this year at a White House Correspondents’ Association dinner pre-party — Daniels’s lawyer says he does his best to keep his feet on the ground.

“I’ve really strived to not get too high. I realize that all this could end tomorrow,” he says. 

“It could all come crashing down," he continues. But before the day is done, Avenatti will have published an op-ed in The New York Times and made headlines for an explosive interview on Tucker Carlson's Fox News show.

Avenatti — who critics argue is nothing more than an attention-seeking celebrity lawyer — says he repeatedly reminds those around him that "the rate of descent is exponentially higher than the rate of ascent."

"And so if you look at how high the rate of ascent has been in the past six months, it’s absolutely terrifying as to what the rate of descent could be.”

Trump has attacked the media. What do you think of the media coverage, not only of Daniels, but of yourself?

I think for the most part it’s been more than fair. But I think it’s like anything else. I mean you’re going to have bad apples here and there. You’re going to have people who don’t adhere to the same journalistic standards for instance that others do. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with on occasion calling out people for when they’re not adhering to those same standards.

Now certainly not to the extent that the president does, because that’s just a blanket with very few exceptions, attack on the media. That’s no appropriate.

But when journalists get things wrong, when they don’t adhere to certain standards, when they don’t want to report on facts that are directly contrary to what they write, when they approach a piece with a clear agenda and they ignore evidence and facts that don’t support that agenda, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with calling people out on that.

What are the chances Trump wins reelection in 2020?

I think it all depends on who the Democratic nominee is.

I think if the economy holds, which is going to have a huge bearing on the outcome, that regardless of who the nominee is, it’s going to be a very, very difficult race to win. And I think if some of the individuals that are being bantered about become the nominee, I think the likelihood of him winning is close to 100 percent.

What would you say to critics who call you an opportunist and question whether this was all part of a plan to make a presidential run?

First of all, no one could’ve predicted what has happened over the last six months was going to happen, relating to the amount of attention this case has received and the enthusiasm for my client and me. No one could’ve predicted that. I didn’t predict it....

This issue that I’m an opportunist, I don’t really understand this term ‘opportunist.’ You mean an opportunity presented itself, and I worked really hard, and I’ve been diligent, and I think I’ve been fairly smart, and as a result I’m now potentially taking advantage of an opportunity? I thought that’s what this entire country was built on. I thought that’s what people day in and day out in America try to do: they try to strive to better themselves, they try to strive to better their positions for their families, themselves. 

I don’t understand that criticism. That’s like criticizing someone for finding out there’s a job interview, and they actually went on the interview and got the job. I guess they’re an opportunist, too.

Here’s the best piece of evidence as to why this is not about my ego: First of all, I never planned to be in this situation. And had I planned to potentially run, there’s a bunch of things I did in the past that I would’ve never done, and there’s a bunch of things that I did not do that I should’ve done. So that’s number one. Number two, if Trump does not run, my appetite for this goes down at least 50 percent. And if [Vice President] Pence also does not run, I’m not going to do it.

Kathy Griffin and other critics of the president have said after the Trump era, they’d like a career politician to sit in the Oval Office.

The problem has nothing to do with Donald Trump being a reality TV star, being a celebrity, or his lack of governmental experience. That’s not the problem. That has nothing to do with what the issues are that people are upset about.

The problem is this guy lacks the moral fiber, the intelligence, the heart, the courage to successfully lead this country.

If we had elected George Clooney, would we have many of the same complaints that we have right now? I don’t think so. Because I think George Clooney — forget about the fact that he’s a good-looking guy — I think the fact that he is a very intelligent, insightful guy with a high degree of emotional intelligence as well.

We wouldn’t be having these issues. People misunderstand this. It’s not the lack of experience. What if Donald Trump had 12 years of legislative experience, but was still the same person that he is? It wouldn’t make a difference. We’d still be in the same position, this would still be a dumpster fire of a presidency.

What do you think of the current crop of potential 2020 Democrats?

I’m not going to comment on any particular candidate, but here’s what I’m going to say: I showed up at the [Democratic National Committee] summer convention a couple of weeks ago, and I received an overwhelmingly enthusiastic response. And I have received encouragement from a number of superdelegates to run for the nomination.

That tells me that number one, there’s a place for me at the table at least in the process, and at least if nothing else to significantly influence the process so whoever is the nominee is adequately prepared to beat Donald Trump.

And number two, the other thing it tells me is there’s a vacuum of leadership within the party and there’s no clear-cut leader in the Democratic Party, there’s no clear-cut choice.

I have asked many other Democrats, other people who’ve been doing this a lot longer than I have, I said let’s assume I decide not to do it. Tell me who is the candidate that has the best shot at beating Donald Trump. Honestly, who do you really think could do it? And 99 out of 100 times, nobody has a good answer to that question and that tells me a lot.

When would you make a decision about whether to make a 2020 run?

I don’t have a timetable. I mean, by the spring at the very latest.

Rudy Giuliani has been critical of your client, Stormy Daniels. Do you think Giuliani has been helping Trump’s case or hurting it?

I think Rudy is the best attorney working for Stormy Daniels.

He’s far more effective than I could ever hope to be for Stormy. I wish he would do more interviews, he would say more outrageous things, because every time he does, our case gets better and better.

In fact, I’m prepared to hire Rudy a full-time driver to drive him from TV appearance to TV appearance.

Daniels announced her book, “Full Disclosure, is coming out next month. Any plans to pen your own book?

No. Ultimately I may, but I don’t have anything planned right now.

Trump has an uncanny ability to pinpoint his opponents’ weaknesses. What would he target you for?

You know I’m not certain, but he better pack a lunch.