Democrats were right to worry that celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti would gum up their campaign to destroy Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
Avenatti’s insatiable lust for attention and his predilection for tabloid-style sensationalism helped push Sen. Susan Collins into backing Kavanaugh's confirmation, as the Maine Republican herself said Friday in a speech on the floor of the Senate.
Prior to announcing her support, Collins walked through the many reasons for why she plans to vote to confirm the judge. The senator, of course, addressed the allegations of sexual misconduct leveled against Kavanaugh, including the charge that he tried to rape Christine Blasey Ford when they were both in high school. On that matter, Collins walked a fine line, saying she believes Ford is a genuine victim, but that there is also no evidence to show Kavanaugh is the one who committed the assault.
But then Collins turned her attention to Avenatti and his client, Julie Swetnick, who claims she witnessed Kavanaugh participating in gang rapes when he was roughly 15 years old. For Avenatti, the senator’s tone took a decided turn.
“Some of the allegations levied against Judge Kavanaugh illustrate why the presumption of innocence is so important. I am thinking in particular not of the allegations raised by Prof. Ford, but of the allegation that when he was a teenager, Judge Kavanaugh drugged multiple girls and used their weakened state to facilitate gang rape,” Collins said.
She added, “This outlandish allegation was put forth without any credible supporting evidence and simply parroted public statements of others. That such an allegation can find its way into the Supreme Court confirmation process is a stark reminder about why the presumption innocence is so ingrained in our American consciences.”
Avenatti has been shopping his client to any newsroom that will listen, and unfortunately, many have. When he first unveiled Swetnick, he did so by releasing an affidavit wherein she claimed to have a “firm recollection” from the early 1980s of “seeing boys lined up outside rooms at many of these parties waiting for their ‘turn’ with a girl inside the room” and that one of these boys was Kavanaugh. She said she witnessed Kavanaugh trying to get girls "inebriated and disoriented so they could then be 'gang raped' in a side room or bedroom by a 'train' of numerous boys." Swetnick also said there are “other witnesses that can attest to the truthfulness of each of the statements above.”
She never provided a single additional witness, and then her own story started to change. When Swetnick appeared this week on NBC News to repeat her uncorroborated and frankly fantastic allegation, Swetnick contradicted key details from her own affidavit.
With all the holes in her story, it’s no surprise that the Daily Beast was able to report on Sept. 24, “Democrats to Michael Avenatti: You’re Not Helping in the Kavanaugh Fight.”
On Friday, Collins explained the absurd Swetnick allegation, which had far too many members of the news media practically squealing with delight, is a reminder of the jurisprudential principles for which America stands. And Avenatti scurried to defend himself.
She “is channeling Donald Trump. Entirely disingenuous and shameful. Where was she when Judge Garland could not even get an up or down vote?” he asked.
In case he’s wondering, Collins met with Garland. She also lobbied to get him a hearing.
“This is all about her post-office job opportunities on K street. We shall never forget. Not in Nov. Not in 2020. Not ever,” Avenatti added in another one of his many empty threats. "[Collins] should be ashamed of herself for attacking my client and Dr. Ford. How did she make a credibility determination as to my client? How is she qualified to do that without any investigation? She did zero to determine whether my client and her witnesses were credible.”
Shortly after Collins' speech, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., who tracks closely with GOP moderates, released a statement announcing his support for Kavanaugh. With these two previously undecided senators on board, Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court is all but guaranteed.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., owes Avenatti a fruit basket or something. The senator couldn't have done it without him.