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The lawyer reportedly denied making the comments.
Michael Avenatti came under fire on Thursday after being quoted as saying that the Democratic presidential nominee in 2020 “better be a white male” during a lengthy profile for Time magazine.
Avenatti, the lawyer who represented both porn star Stormy Daniels in her bid to sue President Donald Trump and Brett Kavanaugh accuser Julie Swetnick, is considered a potential 2020 candidate himself.
“I think it better be a white male,” he said. “When you have a white male making the arguments, they carry more weight. Should they carry more weight? Absolutely not. But do they? Yes.”
Avenatti goes on to explain in the 3,000-word article that he believes being a white male has allowed him to succeed in defending or advocating for his female and immigrant clients.
There was widespread backlash to the comments, among those on the political left and the right.
Michael Avenatti said—out loud to reporters—that the democratic presidential nominee in 2020 “better be a white male” because “when you have a white male make the arguments, they carry more weight.”— Imani Gandy’d Yams (@AngryBlackLady) October 25, 2018
Better be a white male, my ass. He better go sit down. https://t.co/XKEAUwGMiI pic.twitter.com/WQi4kFkfqR
With Avenatti saying a white male must be the Dem candidate in 2020, I am more enthusiastic than ever about @SenKamalaHarris.— David Rothkopf (@djrothkopf) October 25, 2018
Let me be unmistakably clear on something.— Shaun King (@shaunking) October 25, 2018
Here he just said that the 2020 Democratic nominee “better be a white male.”
This man is a clown. He’s Better Call Saul. And now we are learning he’s also a sexist bigot. https://t.co/LJY5WRbQe8
michael avenatti: the 2020 dem candidate better be a white male— m i t h (@ManInTheHoody) October 25, 2018
Avenatti responded via Twitter on Thursday afternoon.
Let me be clear: I have consistently called on white males like me to step, take responsibility, and be a part of stoping the sexism and bigotry that other white males engage in. It is especially important for them to call out other white males. I make this pt in my speeches.— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) October 25, 2018
Asked about the remarks and the article by CNN, Avenatti said, “I was misquoted, and it was taken out of context.”
“A big tenet of my speeches is that we need more white men standing up and speaking up to defend women and minorities,” he told the network. “When they do that, it carries weight among other white men.”
According to conservative website the Daily Caller, Avenatti outright denied he’d made the comment.
“I never said that, that’s complete bullshit,” he reportedly told the Daily Caller, repeating that the comments as printed were “not what [he] said.”
David Gilmour is a reporter who specializes in national politics, internet culture, and technology. He previously covered civil liberties, crime, and politics for Vice.