WASHINGTON – Michael Avenatti, the attorney for adult-film star Stormy Daniels, told PJM he should not be considered a political activist, despite referring to President Trump on Tuesday evening as a “Manchurian candidate” and a “Russian stooge” who should be removed from office.
“Why do you keep choosing one of our biggest foreign foes instead of us? Our troops didn’t die in Yorktown, they didn’t take Normandy beach, they didn’t rebuild Europe and secure the postwar peace that we have enjoyed and that you are now destroying, Mr. President, for you to live as a Manchurian candidate in our White House,” Avenatti said during an “Occupy Lafayette Park” rally in front of the White House, where many protesters held up “Impeach 45” signs and chanted “lock him up.”
“It is time for him to go,” he added. “It is time for every American of good conscience, whether you are the right or the left or the center, to unite and call this like it is.”
The overnight rallies on the north side of the White House began Monday, with organizers intending to protest as Trump returned from his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.
In his prepared remarks for the rally, Avenatti said it is time for the American public to “recognize this moment for the emergency it is and devote themselves to the Russian stooge’s removal. It is time for good people on the right to recognize that a red line has been crossed.”
Avenatti emphasized that he did not have a political agenda when he first announced Daniels’ lawsuit against Michael Cohen, who was Trump’s longtime personal attorney. Following his speech at the anti-Trump rally, PJM asked Avenatti if he sees a contradiction between his earlier statements and his recent political activism.
“I don’t know that I’m an activist. I’m a truth-teller and I’m on the side of justice and the rule of law. I’ve been a lawyer for a very long time and, look, the only reason I’m against this president right now is he finds himself on the wrong side of the law consistently,” he replied.
When asked if calling for Trump’s impeachment could complicate his arguments in the Daniels case, Avenatti replied, “I don’t think I’ve called for his impeachment, formally. I just want him to do the right thing and come clean with the American people.”
Avenatti said he joined the protest at the White House because of Trump’s performance at Monday’s joint press conference with Putin.
“I was invited to come out and speak on it. I feel passionately about it and, you know, what happened in the last 48 hours is a disgrace. And regardless of whether you’re on the left, the right or the center, you should be very upset by it,” he said.
Philippe Reines, a former senior advisor to Hillary Clinton at the State Department who helped put the rally together, said he disagrees with Democrats who think it is too early to discuss impeachment.
“I do believe he’s met the threshold for high crimes and misdemeanors. I’m not a legal scholar,” Reines told PJM. “It is crystal-clear he obstructed justice. He fired Jim Comey, that Jim Comey wouldn’t let an investigation of him go. To me, it’s not a political issue when the guy has committed an impeachable offense – it’s the people’s responsibility to act on it. And in this day and age it’s the Republicans: they control the House, impeachment starts in the House, and they’ve sold their soul.”
Actress and political activist Alyssa Milano joined the protest and urged protesters to call on their senators to block Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh from being confirmed.
“Each one of you have your own platforms, whether it be the office water cooler or your dinner table. You need to go home, you need to spread the word, everybody needs to do one thing every day,” she said. “Go in, call your representatives and try to block this man from being appointed on the Supreme Court. It will affect every single aspect of our lives and it will potentially protect Donald Trump from being prosecuted for his criminalized administration. So we have to stand tough on this.”