Democrats say Avenatti undercut their case against Kavanaugh

Senate Democrats believed they had Brett Kavanaugh on the ropes.Christine Blasey Ford had just reveal...

Posted: Oct 9, 2018 10:40 AM
Updated: Oct 9, 2018 10:40 AM

Senate Democrats believed they had Brett Kavanaugh on the ropes.

Christine Blasey Ford had just revealed her identity and was prepared to testify in public, detailing her allegations that Kavanaugh had tried to sexual assault her more than three decades ago. On top of that, a New Yorker article had just revealed that a second woman, Deborah Ramirez, was accusing Kavanaugh of exposing his genitals to her while they were college students.

Brett Kavanaugh

Christine Blasey Ford

Crime, law enforcement and corrections

Crimes against persons

Criminal offenses

Donald Trump

Gary Peters

Government and public administration

Government organizations - US

Julie Swetnick

Michael Avenatti

Misc people

Political Figures - US

Political organizations

Politics

Sex crimes

Sexual assault

Sexual misconduct

Society

Susan Collins

US Congress

US Democratic Party

US political parties

US Senate

Mark Judge

Then came Michael Avenatti.

The combative lawyer, who represents Stormy Daniels and has been a ubiquitous presence on cable television, revealed a stunning new allegation: A woman, Julie Swetnick, said she had witnessed the Supreme Court nominee attending more than 10 house parties between 1981 and 1983 where Kavanaugh and his friend, Mark Judge, were present. At some of those parties, she alleged, Kavanaugh was "fondling and grabbing girls without their consent" and, along with others, spiking drinks to force girls to lose their inhibitions.

She also alleged that at some parties, boys lined up by a bedroom to "gang-rape" incapacitated girls and claimed those in the lineup included Kavanaugh and Judge. But she did not say Kavanaugh or Judge assaulted the girls in the bedroom, nor did she provide the names of corroborating witnesses.

Kavanaugh furiously denied the allegations.

But the eye-popping nature of those claims suddenly gave Republicans an opportunity to shift the narrative away from Ford's allegations and make a broader case that the growing accusations of sexual misconduct amounted to an orchestrated Democratic smear campaign, something Sen. Susan Collins, the swing GOP vote, cited herself when announcing she'd be the decisive vote to support Kavanaugh's confirmation.

A host of Democratic senators and senior aides told CNN that the allegations from Avenatti's client gave the GOP an opening to conflate -- and dismiss -- all the allegations in one broad brush.

"Well you know at some point there were a lot of folks coming forward making all sorts of accusations," said Sen. Gary Peters, a Michigan Democrat, when asked about the allegations raised by Avenatti and his client. "It turns it into a circus atmosphere and certainly that's not where we should be."

Asked if Avenatti was helpful, Peters said: "I think we should have focused on the serious allegations that certainly appeared very credible to me that would be our best course of action."

Privately, the assessment was far more scathing.

"Democrats and the country would have been better off if Mr. Avenatti spent his time on his Iowa vanity project rather than meddling in Supreme Court fights," a senior Senate Democratic aide fumed, referring to Avenatti toying with the idea of seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. "His involvement set us back, absolutely."

A Democratic senator, who asked to remain anonymous to speak candidly, said: "Not helpful at all. I think Susan was always yes, but Avenatti was a useful foil."

Reached for comment Saturday, Avenatti pushed back, criticizing anonymous Democrats as "cowards" and saying the assessment shows the "failed leadership" in the Democratic Party.

"It is outrageous that these so-called Democrats would attack a sexual assault victim from coming forward," Avenatti told CNN. "I guess their position is that she should have shut her mouth and remained silent? It is disgusting that these cowards blame my client and the other accusers from coming forward.""

Avenatti, who represented Daniels, the porn actress who was paid by Trump's then-attorney Michael Cohen in the 2016 campaign to keep silent about an alleged affair with Trump, has furiously criticized the FBI for not investigating the allegations, saying Swetnick would be willing to testify under oath about her claims.

In a statement released on Sunday, Swetnick said Collins "does not deserve to represent women" and that her allegations deserved an investigation.

"My allegations should have been investigated. I know of multiple corroborating witnesses and we were all prepared to speak with the FBI as we made known for weeks," the statement read.

Swetnick went on to say that key Republican senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee "purposely prevented any inquiry into my claims and those of other sexual assault victims in the interest of politics."

While Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the committee, cited the allegation once they were made public to call for the confirmation to ground to a halt, other Democrats quickly distanced themselves from the allegation, choosing instead to keep the focus on Ford's claims -- and a lesser extent, Ramirez's.

And on Friday when she announced her critical decision to give Kavanaugh the votes to confirm his nomination, Collins called the allegation "outlandish" without "any credible supporting evidence."

"Some of the allegations levied against Judge Kavanaugh illustrate why the presumption of innocence is so important," Collins said on the floor. "I am thinking in particular not of the allegations raised by Professor 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."

Avenatti sharply criticized Collins -- and Democrats, as well.

"How do they know her claims, supported by six witnesses were not credible?" Avenatti said. "They did basically nothing to find out."

Many Democrats did not know what to make of the claims made by Avenatti's client. In particular, Democrats pointed to more than 1,000 pages of FBI tips on Kavanaugh that poured in and were never investigated -- some of which, they said, could have been credible. They said Swetnick's could well be credible -- or perhaps not.

"I just step back and I just look at the totality -- this was not attempted to be a serious process," said Sen. Ed Markey, Democrat from Massachusetts, when asked if Avenatti was helpful to the case against Kavanaugh. He called the FBI probe a "coverup" directed by the White House

"I just consider this to be a larger story," Markey said, when asked again about Avenatti's clients came.

Peters said some Republicans pointed to the Swetnick allegations "to distract from the task at hand, which is really about pursuing what are serious allegations, and one that seemed to be credible.

"So there are always efforts whenever you dealing with a serious issue like this, that people want to change the discussion and have everybody chanse another different shiny object," Peters said. "Our job in the Senate, and it should have been the job of the FBI too, is to focus on those that are credible."

One Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee privately was more direct.

"It wasn't helpful because the story became about Avenatti," the Democratic senator said.

Avenatti, who headlined an Ohio fundraiser Friday and is considering running for president in 2020, said he wears that Democratic criticism with a "badge of honor."

"Many establishment Democrats are concerned because they see me as a threat," Avenatti said.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 39133

Reported Deaths: 1514
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin12597787
Ramsey4963229
Dakota242192
Stearns241419
Anoka2266109
Nobles16726
Olmsted114715
Washington113740
Mower9602
Rice8488
Scott7624
Clay59138
Kandiyohi5781
Blue Earth4942
Wright4835
Todd4012
Carver3951
Lyon3272
Sherburne3255
Freeborn2970
Watonwan2380
Steele2371
Benton2203
St. Louis19615
Nicollet17312
Martin1715
Cottonwood1360
Goodhue1318
Winona12915
Crow Wing10812
Le Sueur1081
Pine1070
Chisago1021
Otter Tail1001
McLeod920
Dodge880
Carlton870
Unassigned8537
Polk822
Chippewa791
Isanti750
Waseca710
Douglas650
Murray650
Itasca6412
Meeker611
Morrison611
Faribault600
Pipestone592
Becker570
Jackson550
Sibley542
Pennington520
Renville362
Beltrami340
Brown342
Mille Lacs342
Wabasha330
Rock310
Fillmore300
Yellow Medicine300
Houston270
Swift221
Wilkin213
Norman200
Redwood190
Koochiching181
Grant170
Roseau170
Cass162
Aitkin150
Big Stone150
Kanabec151
Wadena150
Marshall120
Pope120
Lincoln100
Mahnomen101
Clearwater90
Hubbard80
Lake60
Stevens50
Traverse50
Lac qui Parle40
Red Lake40
Kittson20
Cook10
Lake of the Woods00

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 32064

Reported Deaths: 731
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk6739181
Woodbury326044
Black Hawk232358
Buena Vista171911
Johnson13408
Linn130482
Dallas129129
Marshall106019
Scott84510
Story8063
Pottawattamie74512
Dubuque74222
Wapello70830
Crawford6783
Muscatine64944
Sioux4810
Tama46829
Wright3851
Louisa36313
Jasper32517
Plymouth3245
Warren2911
Dickinson2663
Webster2484
Washington2459
Cerro Gordo1901
Hamilton1891
Boone1501
Clay1370
Allamakee1334
Clarke1333
Mahaska11717
Shelby1170
Clinton1131
Poweshiek1078
Carroll991
Pocahontas981
Bremer957
Franklin950
Des Moines912
Emmet870
Henry863
Cedar851
Hardin810
Taylor800
Monona770
Cherokee761
Floyd732
Marion710
Benton681
Guthrie684
Jones640
Sac640
Jefferson620
Osceola620
Buchanan601
Butler592
Hancock551
Humboldt551
Calhoun542
Harrison540
Lee542
Iowa530
Delaware511
Monroe517
Fayette500
Madison482
Lyon450
Clayton443
Davis411
Mitchell410
Palo Alto410
Grundy400
Mills390
Winneshiek390
Kossuth360
Howard340
Jackson340
Union340
Lucas314
Chickasaw290
Greene290
Winnebago290
Cass240
Ida230
Appanoose213
Keokuk211
Van Buren210
Page200
Worth200
Adair160
Audubon161
Unassigned160
Ringgold150
Decatur120
Montgomery102
Wayne100
Adams80
Fremont80
Rochester
Clear
82° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 86°
Mason City
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 86°
Albert Lea
Broken Clouds
82° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 87°
Austin
Clear
82° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 88°
Charles City
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 86°
Heat Advisory in effect until 7pm
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Sean's 6pm Weather 7/8

Image

Bishop writes to ask for clemency for Dustin Honken

Image

Catch a ride to stay cool

Image

Free masks in Rochester

Image

Boys & Girls Club back open

Image

Rochester Elementary School releases plans

Image

Working in the heat

Image

Potential job cuts for Austin city employees

Image

Free memory screenings being offered during pandemic

Image

1K Mile March: Alabama to Minneapolis

Community Events