Possible Dem 2020 Candidate Avenatti Doesn’t Want to Abolish ICE

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Michael Avenatti, attorney for adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, on Sunday laid out his policy positions for a potential 2020 presidential run on ABC’s "This Week."

Avenatti’s numerous media appearances, following his client’s defamation suit against President Donald Trump, have raised his profile, and he traveled to the Iowa State Fair to explore the possibility of running for president. He said he would not run on abolishing ICE but he did express his support for Medicare for all, the single-payer healthcare program championed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.)

"I do not believe we should abolish ICE," Avenatti said. "That's similar to saying we're going to get rid of law enforcement, but we should curtail ICE."

That puts him at odds with some 2020 aspirants, such as Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.), who have touted support for abolishing ICE. Asked how to pay for Medicare for all, Avenatti said he would save money by stopping construction of Trump’s border wall and raising taxes.

"I think you start with not building a wall on our southern border. I think you also figure out what you're going to do relating to some of these tax breaks that we're just given," he said. "We have to provide a basic level of health care for all Americans."

When asked specifically about Republicans’ tax cuts passed last year, Avenatti said he was not sure whether he wanted to repeal them.

Despite his support for Sanders’ health care proposal, Avenatti said he supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. He also touted his tough foreign policy positions, saying he would put more pressure on North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un than Trump has.

"If you're going to go to Singapore and have a summit, you don't go there for a photo-op in front of some flags and a red carpet. You actually go there to get something done," Avenatti said. "If it was me, I'd still be there if we were still in the situation we are."

He said he did not support impeaching Trump based on current evidence, but he stressed that could change as new facts emerge.

"To be clear though, we need to be demanding why—why the president is standing shoulder to shoulder with Vladimir Putin," Avenatti said.

He also said he did not know whether House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) should remain the top Democrat in the House, calling it a decision for members of Congress.

Avenatti does not have any political experience or notable policy expertise, but analysts such as Philip Rucker of the Washington Post have given him a chance. Panelists on MSNBC's "Deadline: White House" credited Avenatti with being a "fighter" who "stands out" as a legitimate contender to win the presidency.

Paul Crookston

Paul Crookston   Email Paul | Full Bio | RSS
Paul Crookston is a media analyst with the Washington Free Beacon. He was previously a Collegiate Network fellow at National Review. A 2016 graduate of Gordon College in Wenham, Mass., he served as the managing editor of the Tartan campus newspaper. He is originally from Tampa, Fla., but he still roots for Dad’s Ohio teams. His Twitter handle is @P_Crookston. He can be reached at crookston@freebeacon.com.

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