CONCORD, New Hampshire—Michael Avenatti blasted as “outrageous” an apparent move by the White House to limit the scope of the FBI investigation into sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and not include a woman he is representing.
“Trump has now determined that he and he alone will be the sole arbiter of whether a woman’s claims of sexual assault and misogyny are credible,” Avenatti said in a tweet Saturday evening. “Why even have an FBI investigation? I thought it was their job to make this determination. He and Kavanaugh are afraid of the truth.”
The response came hours after Avenatti, the high profile lawyer who is weighing a 2020 presidential run, told the The Daily Beast during a stop in New Hampshire that his client Julie Swetnick was “anxious to sit down with the FBI to tell her story.”
Avenatti spoke out following multiple reports that the FBI has been instructed by the White House to interview Christine Blasey Ford, who testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday that she was “100 percent certain that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her during a high school party in the summer of 1982. The FBI will reportedly also question Deborah Ramirez, who claims Kavanaugh exposed himself to her when they were both inebriated at a party in college.
The reports indicate that Swetnick, who in sworn affidavit alleged that Kavanaugh and others sexually assaulted high school girls and said he was present at a party where she claimed she was gang-raped, will not be questioned by the FBI.
In an interview during the brief stop in New Hampshire, Avenatti vowed to “take the facts” to the public if Swetnick’s allegations aren’t included in the FBI investigation.
He also touted that President Donald Trump and top Republicans in the Senate view him as a “considerable threat.”
Lacking the votes to confirm Kavanaugh, Senate Republican leaders agreed on Friday to allow the FBI to conduct a “supplemental” background investigation into the allegations against the president’s high court nominee, which would delay for at least a week any final floor confirmation vote on the federal appeals court judge.
Kavanaugh choked up as he angrily defended himself against the allegations during a hearing Thursday, calling them “a calculated and orchestrated political hit” against him by Democrats.
Avenatti railed against any move by Republicans to narrow the scope of the investigation, saying that “when I hear statements made by the leadership in the Senate that the FBI is only going to be investigating credible allegations against Judge Kavanaugh, my ears perk up because that’s not how it’s supposed to work.”
“The FBI is supposed to investigate allegations and then determine whether they’re credible,” he explained. “It is not for someone else to act as a gatekeeper and to have an initial ‘credibility’ determination and then to tell the FBI what they’re going to investigate.”
And Avenatti argued that “to the extent that there’s been any limitation on the scope of the FBI investigation, the American people and the citizens of New Hampshire and elsewhere, they deserve to know what that limitation is and how it came to be and who told the FBI what to investigate.”
Avenatti said he was surprised Swetnick wasn’t being questioned “because we’ve been calling for an FBI investigation for days now. She has submitted a sworn declaration under penalty of perjury detailing various allegations. She’s anxious to sit down with the FBI to tell her story, to identity additional witnesses and information that she believes they should inquire into. And she’s ready and has been ready to do that.”
And he argued that his client’s willingness to sit down for an interview adds credence to he claims.
“In my experience, individuals who are lying or making false accusations do not readily subject themselves to an FBI interrogation or interview session because lying to an FBI agent is a very serious matter and can land you in a federal penitentiary,” he added.
If his client’s allegations aren’t investigated by the FBI, Avenatti vowed “to take facts relating to this to the American people because we don’t want this swept under the rug. We want the facts and the evidence known. We’re going to let the American people decide.”
Avenatti’s motives were questioned the past couple of days by top Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina called him a “lawyer to porn stars.” And the panel’s chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, said that Avenatti “wants to protect people that are involved in pornography and that he’s running for president.”
Trump slammed Avenatti on Twitter as “a third rate lawyer who is good at making false accusations.”
The Los Angeles-based attorney grabbed national exposure this past year representing adult-film actress Stormy Daniels in her lawsuit against Trump. And he’s become a very frequent guest on CNN and MNSBC.
Asked about the criticism, Avenatti said those attacks tell him “that they are very concerned about the facts and the evidence that my client has and secondly it tells me that they see me as a considerable threat. And they should see me as a considerable threat because I am a considerable threat.”
“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that all of them went after me, trying to label me as some porn lawyer, which is ridiculous. I’ve represented one porn star over a nearly 20-year career. I have a long history of representing hard working people,” he added.
After a couple of media interviews, Avenatti met at the state party headquarters in Concord with longtime New Hampshire Democratic Party chairman Ray Buckley. Later, he headlined a Plymouth Area Democrats get out the vote rally and fundraiser.
Avenatti, who’s planning to return to the Granite State for another visit in three weeks, said he’s “seriously considering” a run for the Democratic presidential nomination.
“Some days there’s no question I’m going to do it. Other days there’s no question I’m not going to do it. Because it’s a big decision and it’s something that I’ve got to weigh and I have to look at a lot of different factors,” he shared.
Taking a shot at some potential rivals in what could be a very large field of contenders for the nomination, Avenatti spotlighted that his honesty that he’s seriously considering a bid “is a more straight up answer than you’ll probably get from almost any other likely Democratic challenger.”
Pushing back against his critics, Avenatti said “people say ‘this is all about ego and it’s because of your rise on the national stage.’ No it’s not about ego and here’s the test. If Donald Trump announced tomorrow that he’s not going to run in 2020, my appetite for doing this goes down by at least 50 percent. If Mike Pence then announced that he likewise was not going to run in 2020, I will not run for the presidency of the United States.”
Avenatti’s argument as he travels the country is that to defeat Trump in 2020, the Democrats need a fighter, like himself.
“I believe that I have a unique skill set for this moment in time, this particular situation that we find ourselves in, where I could be more than competitive against Donald Trump. It’s about matchups in my view. If you put me up against other Republican challengers for the presidency, there’s no question in my mind that I’d get beat by a number of them,” he said.
“I don’t think I’m a savior and I don’t think I’m ‘the guy’ by any stretch,” he said.
But Avenatti touted that “I’m one of a few individuals that could actually pull it off, that could actually beat him in the general election. And I’m confident that would I be the nominee, I would beat him in the general election. Handily. There’s no question in my mind about that now; whether I can get through the primary if I were to do it, that’s a whole other bowl of fish. That’s a whole other question.”