Bench Memos

Law & the Courts

So Now NBC News Tells Us

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

Yesterday, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Charles Grassley asked the Department of Justice to investigate whether Julie Swetnick and her attorney, Michael Avenatti, illegally conspired to provide materially false statements or otherwise obstruct the Committee’s investigation of allegations against Brett Kavanaugh. Senator Grassley’s letter to DOJ may be found here.

Also yesterday, NBC News reported on “new questions” about Swetnick’s and Avenatti’s claims about Justice Kavanaugh. The report notes that when NBC interviewed Swetnick about her allegations against Kavanaugh, she refused to corroborate some of the claims made in her sworn statement or by her attorney, Avenatti. (NBC aired the interview anyway.)

The report also notes that a second woman, identified by Avenatti as someone who could corroborate Swetnick’s claims, also provided inconsistent accounts and refused to reiterate specific charges made in her sworn statement provided to the network by Avenatti. For example, the woman’s statement claims she witnessed Kavanaugh “spike” the punch at high school parties in an effort to get girls drunk. Yet when asked about this by NBC News, “the same woman told NBC News a different story,” much like Swetnick.

What’s interesting about the NBC News story is that all of the relevant interviews and reporting occurred weeks ago, while the Senate was still considering whether to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Yet only now is NBC disclosing this information and claiming there are “new questions” about Avenatti’s allegations.

To be fair, Swetnick’s allegations fell apart rather quickly. Nonetheless, this additional information would seem to have been particularly relevant when the Senate was still considering Kavanaugh’s nomination. Why, then, is NBC News only reporting on these discrepancies now?

Jonathan H. Adler is the Johan Verhiej Memorial Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Business Law and Regulation at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law.

Most Popular

U.S.

In Defense of Coleman Hughes

Picture the scene: A young man walks into a congressional hearing to offer witness testimony. His grandfather was barbarically brutalized by people who are now long dead. The nation in which he resides built its wealth of his grandfather’s brutalization. The question: Should his fellow citizens pay the young ... Read More
Film & TV

Toy Story 4: A National Anthem

The Toy Story franchise is the closest thing we have to an undisputed national anthem, a popular belief that celebrates what we think we all stand for — cooperation, ingenuity, and simple values, such as perpetual hope. This fact of our infantile, desensitized culture became apparent back in 2010 when I took a ... Read More
Education

College Leaders Should Learn from Oberlin

Thanks to their social-justice warrior mindset, the leaders of Oberlin College have caused an Ohio jury to hit it with $44 million in compensatory and punitive damages in a case where the school couldn't resist the urge to side with its “woke” students against a local business. College leaders should learn ... Read More
Elections

Joe and the Segs

Joe Biden has stepped in it, good and deep. Biden, if he has any hope of ever being elected president, will be dependent on residual goodwill among African Americans from his time as Barack Obama’s loyal and deferential vice president — so deferential, in fact, that he stood aside for Herself in 2016 even ... Read More
Film & TV

Fosse/Verdon and the Dismal #MeToo Obsession

In the final episode of Fosse/Verdon, one of the two titular characters, Bob Fosse, is shooting one of the greatest films of all time. The other, Gwen Verdon, is having a quarrel with her unspeakably dull boyfriend about whether he approves of her performing in a road-show production of a Broadway musical. These ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Madcap Caution of Donald Trump

The worry last week was that the Trump administration was ginning up fake intelligence about Iran blowing up oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz to justify a war against Iran. Then, this week, President Donald Trump said the Iranian attacks weren’t a big deal. The episode is another indication of the ... Read More