Law & the Courts

Avenatti’s Sleazy New Charge

Michael Avenatti speaks reporters in Los Angeles, Calif., September 24, 2018. (Andrew Cullen/Reuters)

There is the eleventh hour, and then there is Avenatti hour. This morning, as Washington, D.C., geared up for tomorrow’s Senate hearing, Michael Avenatti came forward with his much-hyped “third accuser,” ensuring that all hell broke loose once again. If nothing else, the man certainly has a taste for the dramatic.

But drama is not evidence, and timing is not corroboration, and, as is customary for the man, Avenatti’s latest act seems to have been built out of smoke and mirrors. We were promised proof that Brett Kavanaugh, along with his friend Mark Judge, had been running a “gang rape” ring. Instead, we got an unsubstantiated statement from a single accuser, the only details of which (the names and a convenient reference to “Beach Week”) were based on information that was already publicly available. In a statement posted on Twitter, Julie Swetnick alleged that Judge Kavanaugh was present when friends of his engaged in serious criminal misconduct. Per Swetnick, who claimed to have been to at least ten parties with the pair, Kavanaugh often got “excessively” drunk and tried “fondling and grabbing” girls without their consent. The women were “disoriented” with drugs and alcohol and then “gang raped.”

As evidence for this, Swetnick provided . . . nothing. She named neither witnesses nor victims, could identify none of the perpetrators except for Kavanaugh and Judge, failed notably to decide on the year in which these alleged crimes took place, and hedged in her language such that the only concrete accusation of Brett Kavanaugh’s involvement with “gang rape” was that she saw him drunk once near a door. In a bloodless piece on the topic, the New York Times reported that “none of Ms. Swetnick’s claims could be independently corroborated.” “Her lawyer,” the paper confirmed, “declined to make her available for an interview.” Well, then.

In a statement, Judge Kavanaugh complained that the allegation had come “from the Twilight Zone.” That is not quite right. The Twilight Zone was held to represent “the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge.” But in the declaration provided by Avenatti, there was no light, no science, and no knowledge. As has been the case with the other two accusers, all of the named witnesses — in this case, Kavanaugh and Judge — immediately denied the charges. Where, exactly, are investigators supposed to look next?

Questions abound. Why, given their severity, were these alleged crimes never aired until now? Why, when finally let loose, was the chosen venue Twitter? Where are the tens or hundreds of people who must have close knowledge of this serial criminality? Why, as an adult at the time, did Swetnick do nothing, despite having been a witness to multiple “gang rape” parties? Why, when she was in college and Kavanaugh and Judge were minors, did she seek them out repeatedly? It is not usual for the college-age alumni of unrelated schools to attend multiple parties with 15-year-olds.

Those looking for answers will not find Avenatti much help. This morning, before his beloved television cameras, he dissembled and evaded and provided bluster in place of affirmation. In the Senate, aides confirmed that Swetnick had been unable to provide any evidence at all and was prepared only to confirm that she had seen Kavanaugh drink “excessively.” For now, then, there is not much to do but move forward. Evidence, not innuendo, is the hard timber beneath our republic. All signs suggest that Avenatti is building with balsa. #Basta!

The Editors comprise the senior editorial staff of the National Review magazine and website.

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