Porn star lawyer Michael Avenatti took a rare turn playing defense on Thursday after being quoted in an interview saying Democrats should nominate a white male as a presidential candidate in 2020.
The fiery, offense-minded lawyer who has spent months attacking President Trump and jockeying for the 2020 nomination told Time magazine that white men "carry more weight" in politics, and said picking someone who looks like him would be the best bet for the party.
That led to angry comments on Twitter, which prompted Avenatti to defend himself.
Shaun King, a social activist who has helped promote Black Lives Matter, called Avenatti a "clown" and a "sexist bigot" in a tweet. Avenatti replied by saying that was unfair.
"This is outrageous," Avenatti said. "You did nothing to check this. You did not even bother to review a single speech I have given across this country — 50 times over the last few months — where I discuss the issue."
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
Former Democratic state representative Bakari Sellers of South Carolina said he was "furious and disappointed" with Avenatti's remarks, prompting Avenatti to again say he was misunderstood.
"Bakari - I have explained exactly what was meant," he tweeted. "And it is not made up. Go back and look at speech after speech I have given across this country. I make it very clear what I think relating to the need for white males to call out other white males and why."
That is not what was said. Pls go back and look at speech after speech I have given about the need for white men to step up and call out other white men and how their message on these issues is incredibly important.— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) October 25, 2018
Avenatti argued soon after Time's story came out that he never made the comment about the need for a white male at the top of the ticket, and repeated that argument over Twitter. When one activist cited the Time quote, Avenatti said, "That is not what was said."
And I never suggested you did to be clear.— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) October 25, 2018
Avenatti's new troubles with minority Democrats caps off a terrible week for the lawyer who some say has a chance at winning the White House in 2020 because he's willing to fight the way President Trump fights.
On the same day the Time quote was released, Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, referred Avenatti for prosecution to the Justice Department. Grassley claims Avenatti made false statements to the committee when he said he represented a client who claimed to have information about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's sexual assault against women.
Earlier in the week, a judge ordered him to pay $4.85 million to a former employee, and another judge evicted him and his staff from a California office after failing to make rent payments for the last four months.