- President Donald Trump repeated his demand for tougher libel laws as he railed against Michael Avenatti, who represented a woman accusing Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct.
- Trump told Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro he thought “totally false statements” by Avenatti should be held to “the highest standard” for punishment.
- Trump has previously called for tougher libel laws, which concern written defamatory statements and are controlled by state legislatures.
President Donald Trump called for tougher libel laws while railing against attorney Michael Avenatti in an interview with Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro on Saturday.
Trump said there should be ramped-up legal consequences for the “totally false statements” by Avenatti who pursued allegations Kavanaugh had a past of predatory sexual violence and called the FBI investigation into other sexual misconduct allegations was a “farce.”
“It’s disgrace that they are able to do it,” Trump said. “I would love to see our libel laws get toughened up so you can take people and sue them.”
Avenatti wasted no time in hitting back at Trump late Saturday night and Sunday morning.
“You are an habitual liar and a disgrace to this nation,” Avenatti tweeted. “You again claimed tonight that I have made false accusations against you. Name them! Those felonies that Cohen pleaded guilty to? The allegations about you having sex with my client with a 4 mo old at home?”
Libel laws concern written defamatory statements and are controlled by state legislatures.
Avenatti’s client, Julie Swetnick, alleged that Kavanaugh and a friend engaged in “abusive and physically aggressive behaviour toward girls” at parties in high school and were present at a party where she was “gang raped.” Kavanaugh has vehemently denied all allegations against him, and told the Senate Judiciary Committee in his sworn testimony that Swetnick’s accusations were a “farce.”
Trump spoke generally Saturday when he said he though there should be punishment for the “many false things” said about Kavanaugh.
“I would say they should be held to the highest standard,” Trump said. “You can’t go around, and whether it’s making up stories or making false statements about such an important position, you can’t do that. You destroy somebody’s life.”
Avenatti and Trump have publicly clashed in the past over a case brought against the president by porn star Stormy Daniels.
Trump has called for tougher libel laws in the past, most recently in a tweet that said he wanted the ability to seek “retribution” after journalist Bob Woodward’s explosive book “Fear” detailed Trump’s administration as plagued by chaos.
Isn’t it a shame that someone can write an article or book, totally make up stories and form a picture of a person that is literally the exact opposite of the fact, and get away with it without retribution or cost. Don’t know why Washington politicians don’t change libel laws?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 5, 2018
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.