Some Democrats see Michael Avenatti's entry into the Brett Kavanaugh scandal as a 'distraction'

  • Michael Avenatti, the lawyer known for representing the porn actress Stormy Daniels in her case against President Donald Trump, is now representing one of the three women accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct.
  • Republicans say Avenatti’s involvement is proof Swetnick is politically motivated and are dismissing her claims that Kavanaugh was present while she was gang-raped at a party in the early 1980s.
  • Some Democrats view Avenatti’s involvement as an unnecessary “distraction.”

WASHINGTON – Some Democrats are becoming increasingly anxious with Michael Avenatti, the anti-Trump lawyer circling a potential 2020 presidential bid, calling him an unhelpful “distraction” in the Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation saga.

Best known for representing the porn actress Stormy Daniels in her case against President Donald Trump, Avenatti is also working with Julie Swetnick, one of several women who have accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct.

Kavanaugh denied the allegations during his intense hearing with the Senate Judiciary Committee last Thursday.

“That is emphatically what I’m saying – emphatically,” he said. “The Swetnick thing is a joke. That is a farce.”

Unlike with the other accusers, whose claims are now the subject of an FBI investigation as the Senate considers Kavanaugh’s nomination, Republicans have dismissed Swetnick’s allegations, in large part because of Avenatti’s involvement. Swetnick claims, among other things, that Kavanaugh was present when she was gang-raped at a party in the early 1980s.

Multiple Democratic congressional aides told Business Insider they worried that while they wanted to fully investigate Swetnick’s claims, they viewed the connection to Avenatti as an unnecessary distraction that only gave more ammunition to Republicans looking to discredit his client.

“Personally, I think he’s kind of a distraction,” Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia told Business Insider on Wednesday. “I don’t know him, but I think he’s a distraction.”

Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, who announced last week that he would vote against Kavanaugh, told Business Insider that Avenatti “wouldn’t have been my first pick” to represent someone making such serious allegations.

“Do I think he’s in it for the showbiz part? I hope not,” he said. “It’s too serious of a situation.”

But Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, told Business Insider that Avenatti’s involvement was essentially irrelevant because the allegations were Swetnick’s. As to whether she finds Avenatti trustworthy, Feinstein said, “I don’t know.”

Avenatti has been very vocal in representing Swetnick, telling Business Insider on Monday that he did not trust the investigation underway by the FBI.

“The investigation is a farce and is being run by Donald Trump,” he said. “They obviously are afraid of what my client might say, which is why they are avoiding her. There are many witnesses that can support her allegations and we are prepared to provide those names to the FBI as we have been saying for a week.”

‘I hope people will be highly suspicious’

Avenatti has continued in recent days to promote Swetnick’s allegations and call for her to be part of the FBI investigation. Swetnick did her first television interview on Monday, sitting down with an NBC News reporter who said later that parts of Swetnick’s interview differed from her sworn declaration.

Trump has dismissed Avenatti as a “lowlife” and a “con artist,” while others have likened him to an ambulance chaser constantly seeking fame.

“From my view, just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, it just did,” Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said. “The lawyer to porn stars has just taken this debacle to an even lower level. I hope people will be highly suspicious of this allegation presented by Michael Avenatti.”

“I haven’t even gone to Google to learn more about him,” Sen. Chuck Grassley, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said on Wednesday. “It seems to me he wants to protect people that are involved in pornography and he’s running for president. And I don’t know what his motivations are. I don’t know what his reputation as a lawyer is.”

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.