Many observers say the unsupported “gang rape” allegation by Julie Swetnick swayed Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins to vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
The allegation was brought to light by lawyer Michael Avenatti, who rose to fame by representing porn star Stormy Daniels.
In her Oct. 5 speech announcing her decision to support Kavanaugh, Collins said: “Some of the allegations levied against Judge Kavanaugh illustrate why the presumption of innocence is so important. 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. This outlandish allegation was put forth without any credible supporting evidence and simply parroted public statements of others. That such an allegation can find its way into the Supreme Court confirmation process is a stark reminder about why the presumption of innocence is so ingrained in our American consciousness.”
Soon after Collins’ speech, Avenatti was blamed by many for helping to facilitate Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
CNN’s breaking news editor, Kyle Feldscher, tweeted: “Hard to state how much Avenatti’s entrance into this process hurt the Democratic effort to bring down Kavanaugh’s nomination.”
Avenatti responded to Feldscher, tweeting: “You are right. I should have turned my back on my client. Told her to “shut up” and stay quiet because people like you apparently believe assault victims are to blame. This line of thinking is disgusting and offensive to all survivors. And it makes lawyers not want to help them.”
Politico reporter Rachael Bade tweeted: “THIS is why Democrats did NOT want Michael Avenatti to get involved in this fight. Collins is specifically citing Swetnick’s “gang rape” accusation as something that made her think she needed to give Kavanaugh the benefit of the doubt.”
CNN quoted a senior Senate Democratic aide as saying: “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. His involvement set us back, absolutely.”
Asked if Avenatti was helpful, Sen. Gary Peters, Michigan Democrat, 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.”
Pundits of all stripes also weighed in.
The Washington Examiner’s Byron York tweeted: “In WaPo telling, Jane Mayer, Ronan Farrow, and Michael Avenatti ended up helping the Kavanaugh confirmation effort.”
Greg Gutfeld of Fox News tweeted: “Avenatti may be a Republican operative cuz no one could pull off this self-sabotage, unless it was deliberate.”