Michael Avenatti in Des Moines tonight warned against anyone in politics using the recent death of Mollie Tibbetts as a campaign issue, and he criticized President Donald Trump for a long history of inflaming racial tensions for political gain.
“The family has asked that that not be politicized,” Avenatti said when asked by reporters about the recent news. “They issued a statement that I thought was very moving. I think everyone on the right and the left should respect the family’s wishes and refrain from politicizing that young woman’s death.”
Tibbetts’ disappearance last month while jogging in the small Iowa town of Brooklyn drew national headlines and weighed heavily on the minds of many Iowans for weeks. On Tuesday, it was announced that investigators discovered her body after a man confessed to abducting her. The fact that he was an undocumented immigrant was quickly seized upon by many Republicans, including Trump and Governor Kim Reynolds.
“I don’t think that is appropriate under any circumstances,” Avenatti said of politicizing the tragedy. “I don’t think that should be used as any sort of political tool. Her death should not be cheapened like that.”
Trump weighed in just hours after a press conference from investigators, telling a West Virginia crowd at a rally that electing more Republicans would keep “illegal aliens” from coming into the country to commit crimes. The official White House twitter account sent out a tweet today lumping Tibbetts’ family in with others who faced tragedies at the hands of an “illegal alien.”
For 34 days, investigators searched for 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts. Yesterday, an illegal alien, now charged with first-degree murder, led police to the cornfield where her body was found.
The Tibbetts family has been permanently separated. They are not alone. pic.twitter.com/BBskwHEJoU
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) August 22, 2018
“I think you see a constant pattern with this president of inflaming racial tensions,” Avenatti said, adding that the next president needed to be a unifying force. “Otherwise what we’re doing is creating a powder keg.”
And Avenatti added that “people who look like me” needed to be more vocal on the topic. Earlier in the evening in a speech with about two dozen Democratic elected officials, Avenatti explained his recent legal work representing families that were separated at the border.
“I think it’s incumbent upon white males to be outspoken on these issues,” he said.
Avenatti was in Iowa today to speak at a conference of Democratic county officials in Des Moines and for a couple political meetings. Earlier in the day, he toured tornado damage in Marshalltown with Democratic House Leader Mark Smith.
His presentation to the Democrats in a small hotel conference room were mostly similar to his speech at the Wing Ding Dinner two weeks ago. Much of it sounded like a standard stump speech, explaining his upbringing in a working-class family and why he became interested in politics. But he also touched on why he thought a more untraditional candidate like himself would be best to face off against Trump in 2020.
“They want to ignore the fact that this is a different age,” Avenatti said of many Democrats considering a presidential run. “As it relates to the media and social media and the way we get our information and the way the electorate gets their information, you gotta understand, we’re not turning back the hands of time. No candidate is going to be able to run the same race they ran back in 2000 or 2008 or 2012. And against this guy? We better nominate someone who has some big personality, someone who can go toe to toe with this guy”
Avenatti felt that his unique background as an attorney for women who have sued the president and as a constant presence on cable news made him well-suited for these odd political times. But he also noted that he’s specifically thinking about running against Trump. If that situation changes, so may his plans.
“If the economy softens, all bets are off,” Avenatti said of other Democrats’ chances against Trump.
And he insisted that if both Trump and Mike Pence somehow resign or are out of the race in 2020, he would not run. He said his only interest in the race is because he thinks he can “attempt to solve a nightmare of a situation.”
This was Avenatti’s second visit to Iowa in two weeks as he begins to seriously consider a 2020 run.
by Pat Rynard