Michael Avenatti Is Not Helping

Supreme Court

Michael Avenatti, the lawyer who’s skyrocketed to fame representing Stormy Daniels—and used that fame to toy with a possible presidential campaign—now says he has “at least one” client ready to come forward to make additional allegations against Brett Kavanaugh any day now.

Representing survivors who want to share their stories is good in itself. But Avenatti’s remarks about the timetable for his client or clients to come forward —and his teasing their accounts of sexual violence like this is a primetime special—aren’t helping anyone.

In a Monday night appearance on CNN, Avenatti told Chris Cuomo: “At this point, Chris, it’s clients. We’re going to make a public disclosure within the next 48 hours of detailed allegations, as well as the identity of at least one of my clients relating to what she witnessed and experienced concerning Brett Kavanaugh and Mark Judge.”

That comes after Avenatti tweeted a letter he sent Sunday evening to the chief counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee claiming he was in touch with multiple witnesses who had accused Kavanaugh, his friend, Mark Judge, and others of being involved in drunken gang rapes of women at parties. (Avenatti locked his account early Tuesday morning.)

“We are aware of significant evidence of multiple house parties in the Washington, D.C. area during the early 1980s during which Brett Kavanaugh, Mark Judge and others would participate in the targeting of women with alcohol/drugs in order to allow a ‘train’ of men to subsequently gang rape them,” the letter read in part. (In an interview with Fox News Monday night, Kavanaugh flatly denied Avenatti’s allegations, calling the claims about gang rapes “totally false and outrageous.”)

He followed up with a Monday morning email that also contained serious and highly specific allegations against Kavanaugh:

This all muddies the waters considerably. Avenatti’s approach makes sense only if you’re trying to drum up a media blitz—he’s proved himself very apt at capturing headlines—but that isn’t the point here. Are his client(s) ready come forward or have they made the deeply personal choice that they’re not ready to do so? While he’s since walked back his language about a timetable for his client to come forward, putting the person on the clock feels very irresponsible, and floating their allegations before they’re ready to speak could easily risk hurting the movement to keep Kanavaugh off of the Supreme Court. The stakes are too high to be playing these sorts of games.

The stakes for the women involved here are also very real. Christine Blasey Ford has been inundated with threats on her life and driven from her home—an example of how this country greets survivors who allege abuse by powerful men, and one that certainly wasn’t lost on Deborah Ramirez when she, too, made the choice to come forward. Unfortunately, Avenatti’s bull-in-a-china-shop approach isn’t making what will be a life-altering decision any easier for them.

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