Michael Avenatti is now having to deflect considerable criticism from both Democrats and Republicans that his actions around his representation of Julie Swetnick indirectly aided Brett Kavanaugh’s eventual ascendancy to the Supreme Court. While Avenatti has stood steadfastly by Swetnick, she has generally been eviscerated under public scrutiny. It is suggested that Avenatti’s actions in recklessly representing the flawed Swetnick and trying to grab the political spotlight for himself resulted in taking focus off of the more credible claims of Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez, allowing Republicans to focus on the ‘straw man’ of Swetnick’s weak character as a public figure. It seems in this case, that his tactics of social shaming rhetoric have backfired, perhaps permanently damaging his political standing.
Before she even made a media appearance, Avenatti’s client Julie Swetnick was shown to have Federal and State of Maryland tax liens, and history of dismissed litigation (which highlighted a track record of retaliatory sexual harassment allegations against men and potential job-seeker related fraud). This court history was coupled with an apparent reputation for mental and behavioral instability since adolescence. Multiple men she had been associated with romantically came forward to attest to stories of domestic violence, allegations she herself enjoyed group sex, and that she was not credible in general.
Beyond that, Swetnick contradicted her own sworn statement to the Senate about Kavanaugh in an NBC interview; leading to questions about Avenatti’s ethical obligations as a lawyer and even speculation Swetnick might face perjury charges.
While multiple people came forward to dispute Swetnick’s credibility, except for Michael Avenatti nobody publicly came forward to corroborate or support any of her claims — and of the contacts provided by Swetnick, there were multiple dead people (including a police officer she said had taken her call), non-responses, and even a person who claimed to have never met her. As noted by Senator Susan Collins in her summation of her decision to support Brett Kavanaugh, many of the details provided by Swetnick could easily have been culled from other publicly available testimonies.
Ultimately it seems to be this combination of facts and Avenatti’s ‘carnival-like’ approach to legal representation and political theater which has led to bi-partisan denunciation of Avenatti in recent days, causing him ironically to fall back on a Steve Bannon ‘endorsement’ to justify the threat he poses to the establishment.
I don’t think this should in any way be seen as a new precedent for Mr. Avenatti, based on the few cases of his I am familiar with at the present. As previously blogged in my continued speculation that Avenatti’s slipshod work has the appearance of a Larry Flynt operation; Avenatti was representation for the Scientologist Mark Burton, stepson of convicted Scientologist ‘spy’ Duke Snider. Burton hired Avenatti to bring a civil suit on behalf of his deceased wife Cathriona White – the Scientologist lover of Jim Carrey – after White died in 2015 following a prescription drug overdose. Avenatti’s case hinged on allegations of multiple sexually transmitted infections from Carrey to White which allegedly caused White significant suffering and emotional anguish; as well as the suspicious circumstances of White’s death which were attributable to medicines which had been prescribed to an alias used by Jim Carrey (although Carrey argued the drugs had been stolen). Avenatti claimed the case was so suspicious it should be referred to Los Angeles criminal investigators, but the civil case was thrown out and no criminal investigation took place.
The case was lost largely because there had been faked medical records which had been supplied as evidence regarding the transmission of the STIs, as well as findings of White’s suspect marriage to Burton. Carrey alleged the marriage had been a sham so that White could obtain permanent residency in the US. Further, it was actually the second time that White had entered into the appearance of marriage with a known Scientologist for the purposes of obtaining US permanent residency. In this case, Avenatti emerged as a strong advocate for the story of Cathriona White – using a strong appeal to emotion, which seemingly fell apart in court under scrutiny.
It ends up looking like yet another time which Avenatti played a strong advocate for a woman victim who had a compelling, empathetic story but a dubious background and potentially financial motives. He then brought a case which appealed for a criminal investigation against Jim Carrey but it fell apart because the argument had been based on false evidence supplied by an apparently disreputable Plaintiff. Following Avenatti’s ‘aggressive’ advocacy, there seems to be more reasonable suspicion heaped on Scientology than there was on Jim Carrey; much like there was more criticism heaped on Julie Swetnick following Avenatti’s entry as her attorney.
(While Avenatti denied that his case related to Cathriona White was funded directly by the Church of Scientology; it is certainly also not without precedent that Scientologists are known to hock bad Tom Cruise movies as a policy because it makes the Church lots of money 😉 . In fairness, maybe Michael Avenatti just has a thing for Top Gun and he follows Tom Cruise on Twitter since he used to imagine himself up there as ‘Horseshit’ with ‘Maverick’ and ‘Goose’ as a kid.)
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) June 1, 2018
Beyond the Cathriona White case and Julie Swetnick, most people are familiar with Avenatti in the context of Stormy Daniels (Stephanie Clifford). In summation, Daniels is an adult film star with a criminal history of domestic violence towards men as well as a history of targeting conservative politicians in previous election cycles (where she appealed to support from Larry Flynt in a hypothetical run against Louisiana Senator David Vitter in 2009). She is currently in a pitched publicity battle with Donald Trump related to allegations which could potentially end with disgrace or impeachment for the President.
Daniels was able to get $130,000 from Donald Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen shortly before the 2016 election in exchange for silence about an alleged affair she had with the President which he (and she previously) has denied took place. Despite not returning the money, Daniels as represented by Avenatti sued and has claimed the contract is void because it lacked specifically Trump’s signature in ‘section 8.6 of the agreement’, and because Cohen made statements to the Wall Street Journal about the case which may have intimidated Daniels. While the biggest issue in the public interest around the $130,000 payment seems to be whether it violated election law, Avenatti seems more concerned with obtaining some kind of evidence that Trump was aware of the deal (whether that be the allegedly missing signature or obtaining a public admission from the President that the contract is null and void as a condition in order to return the monies (despite Avenatti’s claims that the deal is already null and void )) .
In an April 4 2018 appearance on Megyn Kelly TODAY, Avenatti contorted himself to explain why his client Stormy Daniels was a “principled woman” despite the fact of her inability to abide by her obligations under the agreement with Cohen, her unethical choice to stay silent in exchange for money before the election, or even for failing to simply return the money once she deemed the contract was void (the assertion Daniels was principled caused Kelly’s audience to erupt into laughter).
In that same interview, Avenatti also highlighted his strong and ‘consistent’ skepticism about claims which can start “coming out of the woodwork” “anytime you have a story like this”.
- Kelly: You said that you had others, you’d said publicly that you had at least six other women contact you.
- Avenatti: Eight.
- Kelly: Eight? So it’s up to eight now. Eight other women have contacted you about what?
- Avenatti: About similar allegations and similar circumstances relating to the President.
- Kelly: That they had affairs with him?
- Avenatti: That they had relationships with the President. But I want to caution that – and I’ve been very consistent in this – anytime you have a story like this, you have people coming out of the woodwork – you don’t know if they are telling the truth – we’re vetting it.
- Kelly: So you’re vetting it?
- Avenatti: We’re vetting it. I am not staking my reputation behind any of these people at this point, because we haven’t run it to ground. I have a hundred percent confidence in Stormy Daniels and her story, I don’t have that kind of confidence level as it relates to these other eight women.
A Change of Tune on Believing Women when Politically Necessary
It seems clear that in April 2018, Avenatti claimed he was ‘very consistent’ in his beliefs that not all women accusers could be trusted. Now that he’s receiving considerable criticism in early October 2018 – and apparently based on the low bar he set for vetting Julie Swetnick – he’s changed his tune. Amidst the complaints that Avenatti had undermined the more credible claims of Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez, he sought to bind himself and his client to those accepted stories while creating a ‘smokescreen of shame’ to deflect focus from his obviously irresponsible representation of Swetnick:
- (12:44 PM – 5 Oct 2018) .@SenatorCollins should be ashamed of herself for attacking my client and Dr. Ford. How did she make a credibility determination as to my client? How is she qualified to do that without ANY investigation? She did ZERO to determine whether my client and her witnesses were credible
- (2:38 PM – 5 Oct 2018) .@SenatorCollins did not attack me, she attacked my client. A woman who came forward as a sexual assault victim. And she attacked Julie and “shamed her” without any facts and no investigation. This was a disgrace and a gut punch aimed at survivors everywhere.
- (5:06 PM – 5 Oct 2018 )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.
- (2:23 AM – 6 Oct 2018) People that are attacking Ms. Ramirez and Ms. Swetnick for coming forward should be ashamed. They claim these women should have “shut up” and stayed quiet. Apparently assault victims are to blame for the vote. This line of thinking is disgusting & offensive to all survivors.
- (9:20 AM – 6 Oct 2018) Be clear – the below is directed at Repubs, the media, and Dems that are engaged in this attack on my client. It is especially outrageous that any person who claims they are a Democrat would attack a woman for coming forward and literally risking her life to speak up. Shameful.
So Which is it? Does Michael Avenatti Believe Women or not?
I’m guessing it comes down to the story’s capacity for publicity, profitability, and political expedience. Michael Avenatti really doesn’t seem to have a great track record of representing women victims based on the few high profile public cases of his I’ve observed. He doesn’t even seem to believe most sexual allegations around high profile public stories himself. While he comes across superficially as a compassionate advocate for women, does he deliver for women or does he deliver for Michael Avenatti?
Based on what I have observed, it would seem to be common that in the cases of Cathriona White, Stormy Daniels, and Julie Swetnick that Michael Avenatti has a track record of taking on morally suspect clients who behaved unethically and had plausibly strong financial or other social motivations to make false statements which Avenatti strongly and empathetically advocated for. More than legal merit, the stories have publicity value. (Only time will tell if he continues to stand by Swetnick or if her public reputation will be permanently damaged by her association with Avenatti.)
It’s almost as if Michael Avenatti is not so much interested in winning cases which could be proven in the court of law as he is in those which can be conjured in a conspiracy-theory like sense in the court of public opinion. Avenatti is creating publicity and controversy which he can ‘surf’ — much like Trump has done. Apparently, this can have real-world consequences when people shamelessly self-promote their own agendas during sensitive political discussions, if Senator Collins’ explanation is to be believed – or if Democrats disenchanted with Avenatti are to be believed.
It is apparently not just Avenatti’s publicity approach which is recklessly aggressive. He has a record of sketchy business dealings related to the finances of his own law firm; and was similarly known for his questionable and reckless management of the Tully’s Coffee company. Avenatti owes millions to former partners and also a considerable amount in federal back taxes. He likes to race cars and describes himself as a “mercenary” first and foremost (he will fight if the money’s right). He looks poised for a third marriage in his own life. But does this look like a reliable or trustworthy advocate?
Isn’t Michael Avenatti everything about testosterone-driven ‘male culture’ which women abhor? To me, casting Michael Avenatti as a ‘women’s champion and advocate’ is similarly dangerous and short-sighted to that which entrusting his suspected sponsor Larry Flynt as such a champion of women entails in a cultural sense. Larry Flynt has been accused of molestation by his own daughter and has vulgarly portrayed women as sex objects which has made them the target of the kind of objectifying male-sex dominated social behavior which many women currently resist. Women need to learn that Avenatti as potentially backed by Flynt is a dangerous advocate and they should stay away.
What will be the next political catastrophe Avenatti unintentionally causes for feminists and Democrats with his publicity campaign?
Based on Avenatti’s apparent facility for emotionally-driven lies and a life of aggressive risk-taking which has resulted in lost cases and business failure, one could be forgiven for mistaking Avenatti for a corporate psychopath-type. (Of course, CEO-types are overwhelmingly male and disproportionately psychopathic.)
Based on the track record of Cathriona White, Julie Swetnick, and Stormy Daniels – not to mention the potential liability of a Trotskyite connection to Larry Flynt and Dan Moldea – can women really afford the aggressive, hyper-masculine risk taking profile of Michael Avenatti any longer from a political perspective? His recklessness seems indeed to be setting feminists and Democrats back in the very historically male political system they are seeking to change.
Rarely do Democrats and Republicans agree these days. Certainly not on Brett Kavanaugh. But there seems to be a near-universal political concordance that Avenatti’s endeavors with Swetnick were miscalculated and harmed his cause and those of Democrats.
It seems clear now that Kavanaugh’s confirmation will be remembered not as the hill that ‘Republicans died on’; but rather the one where Michael Avenatti tragically unleashed friendly fire in the form of Julie Swetnick on his Democratic comrades.
Michael Avenatti’s Power Words of Shame
Particularly notable in this case, and as evidenced from the ‘damage control tweets’ above, Avenatti’s strongest rhetoric is seemingly around polarizing concepts of social shame . He is a compelling communicator when you watch him in action. Perhaps as much as he is fearless (as Steve Bannon says), he creates fear in his opponents and directs his audiences’ anger at them using shaming language. Below, I’ve collected a few of Avenatti’s ‘power words of shame’ as demonstrated in his tweets over the past month which are directed at his audience and opponents. You’ll probably note him using these quite a lot if you pay attention to his interviews; it is kind of absurd and laughable once you do notice what complete garbage Avenatti’s rhetoric is.
- complete garbage
- a joke
- no credibility
- completely false
- disgusting and dishonest
- evidently you are incapable
- complete fraud and embarrassment
- false and without any basis
- should be ashamed*
- deserves better
- how dare you
- complete lie
- blatant liar
- disgrace and a fraud
- a coward and weak
- You know better
- these men / these old white men / old white misogynist men / privileged white men*
* = frequent
To me, it looks like forming polarizing rhetoric which capitalizes on women’s anger about male oppression in order to shame cultural figures is what Avenatti is good at; but he’s not so good at vetting legitimate clients. Not so good at winning cases based on real facts. Not so good at making his clients not look like laughingstocks in the public space.
Perhaps Avenatti has a point that he is well-poised to take on Donald Trump in the political space – because much like Trump – he is a hyper-masculine ‘rhetorical magician’ with a history of self-inflated success who plays fast and loose with the facts; and whose rhetoric is driven by strong principles of persuasion and influence which apparently work like a ‘Jedi mind trick’ on the feeble-minded. He is able to create social controversies which he can ‘surf’ from media appearance to media appearance – and potentially as Avenatti thinks – to a legitimate run for the Presidency in 2020.
In Rhetorical Conclusion
Michael Avenatti’s ridiculous and disgraceful behavior paints him as a laughable and absurd joke of a lawyer who should be ashamed for frequently bringing cases which are false and without any basis.
One could be forgiven for positing that this man has no credibility himself because by his own admission and action he is a “mercenary” who will apparently represent claims – no matter how disgusting and dishonest, outrageous or completely false – for money.
Under inspection, his use of powerful shame words makes him appear as a coward and weak; but in the end, he’s just another privileged white man who is empowering misogynists with his misbehavior, despite his efforts to dehumanize other old white men like himself.
Like many old, white misogynist men, Michael Avenatti even possibly has the profile of a corporate psychopath based on a record of recklessly aggressive business management which suggests he is a probable disgrace and a fraud.
Be clear: Michael Avenatti is a bogus advocate for women who is apparently desperate for both money and publicity. His rhetoric is complete garbage and his positions are nonsense. His clients are often blatant liars with social or financial agendas.
Evidently most Democrats are incapable of seeing the facts, but I think it is obvious Avenatti’s behavior is disgraceful and that not only should they know better than to get in bed with this slimeball – but they deserve better too because they have legitimate grievances.
How dare the media continually and shamefully enable Avenatti to perpetuate his regime of complete lies? It is not too late for Democrats and women who need advocacy to distance themselves from this apparently complete fraud and embarrassment to politics and the legal profession.