Michael Avenatti, the former attorney for adult-film star Stormy Daniels, is demanding a very specific “litmus test” for the 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls: Would they be willing to indict Donald Trump and members of his 2016 campaign team if elected president?
Avenatti said Thursday at a press conference that members of Trump’s 2016 campaign, including former campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, former campaign press secretary Hope Hicks, Trump’s son Donald Jr. — as well as AMI CEO David Pecker and Chief Content Officer Dylan Howard — engaged in “criminal conduct at the highest level” in the “stealing of a presidential election.” The lawyer said they should all be indicted for their role in an alleged cover-up. (Hicks, who also served as White House communications director, is now the executive vice president and chief communications officer for Fox Corporation, of which Fox News is a subsidiary.)
Avenatti’s statements come after a federal judge in New York on Thursday ordered that FBI search warrant documents related to the 2018 raid against Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen be unsealed. That move signaled the end of the investigation into alleged hush-money payments to Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal — money allegedly doled out to buy their silence about sexual relationships with Trump prior to the 2016 elections.
“This must be a litmus test for the Democrats,” Avenatti said on Twitter. “No person should be elected who does not agree to hold each of these individuals accountable for their criminal conduct.”
“Donald Trump and his cohorts who engaged in this outright criminal conspiracy must be charged criminally,” Avenatti said at the news conference.
Cohen, 52, pleaded guilty in 2018 to charges that included campaign finance violations, lying to Congress and facilitating hush-money payments to Daniels and McDougal, and he is serving a three-year prison sentence.
Avenatti said he believes “Trump and his cohorts who engaged in this outright criminal conspiracy must be charged criminally” and join Cohen in prison, but doesn’t think there will be further criminal charges brought in the investigation.
“I question whether there will be true justice in this case,” he said, insisting the parties have not been charged “for political reasons.”
“We are pleased that the investigation surrounding these ridiculous campaign finance allegations is now closed,” Trump attorney Jay Sekulow said in a statement on Thursday. “We have maintained from the outset that the president never engaged in any campaign finance violation.”
Cohen called Sekulow’s statement “completely distorted and dishonest” and said, “I and members of the Trump Organization were directed by Mr. Trump to handle the Stormy Daniels matter; including making the hush money payment. The conclusion of the investigation exonerating the Trump Organization’s role should be of great concern to the American people, and investigated by Congress and the Department of Justice.”
Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.