And she says she has witnesses. In a short but sworn affidavit, Michael Avenatti client Julie Swetnick claims that “in approximately 1982,” she was gang raped at a party after having been drugged, “using Quaaludes or something similar in what I was drinking.” The story has changed a little bit since Avenatti first promised it, but it still largely delivers on his claim.
Whether it’s true or not is another question:
BREAKING: Attorney Michael Avenatti has revealed his client as Julie Swetnick. An initial tweet stated she was accusing Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, she is actually accusing him of being present when she was "gang raped." https://t.co/Y0PEpRdUxa pic.twitter.com/Z47kIS5h1j
— CBS News (@CBSNews) September 26, 2018
Avenatti posted the affidavit on Twitter. It’s brief, but it gets to the point:
Below is my correspondence to Mr. Davis of moments ago, together with a sworn declaration from my client. We demand an immediate FBI investigation into the allegations. Under no circumstances should Brett Kavanaugh be confirmed absent a full and complete investigation. pic.twitter.com/QHbHBbbfbE
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) September 26, 2018
For the moment, the Senate Judiciary Committee is taking the allegation seriously:
Senate Judiciary is reviewing new allegations made by @MichaelAvenatti’s client about Brett Kavanaugh’s conduct, aides say
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) September 26, 2018
Avenatti said on Monday that his client could testify that Kavanaugh was part of a “gang rape ring.” In her statement, Swetnick does make that claim, arguing that beginning in 1981, she witnessed Kavanaugh, Mark Judge, and other boys spiking the punch at parties to “cause girls to lose their inhibitions and their ability to say ‘No.'” This, Swetnick claims, caused her to avoid drinking punch at parties. Even so, she claims to have been victimized by this “train” rape conspiracy in 1982, although Swetnick only says that Kavanaugh was “present,” not that he participated in it.
This sounds damning on the surface, but a few things don’t add up. If she was aware of a gang-rape ring in 1981, why was she still attending parties with the same boys in 1982? Why didn’t Swetnick — or anyone else — alert parents or school authorities to what was happening? Furthermore, “in approximately 1982” with no where or when is even more vague than Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation. On top of that, Swetnick makes this sound like a regular feature of Georgetown Prep social events, which might surprise the dozens of men and women who knew Kavanaugh from that period and have already attested to his good character.
Apart from that, teenagers spiked the punch at parties all the time. I knew to stay away from the punch and drink out of cans or bottles at high-school parties — not because I feared getting victimized, but because I didn’t drink alcohol at that time. The motives for spiking the punch vary but all are pretty universal — to loosen up, to shed inhibitions, to act older than one is, and to get away with it. So yes, it’s not hard to imagine Georgetown Prep parties with spiked punch, even with the motive of getting everyone to “lose their inhibitions,” but that doesn’t mean that these teens had gang rape on their minds, either.
Swetnick also claims to have taken offense at Kavnaugh’s assertions during his Fox News interview of virginity as well as “innocence.” That comes ahead of the gang-rape reveal and the “train” conspiracy, which seems a bit … odd. It also suggests that Avenatti might have put this together not over the weekend, but yesterday in response to Kavanaugh’s TV interview. There’s quite a bit more about Kavanaugh’s drinking and attitude toward women in this affidavit than in specific allegations as to his actions in support of the gang-rape conspiracy. Other than a broad allegation against a group of boys in spiking the punch, she doesn’t actually make any specific claims witnessing an actual and specific crime committed by Kavanaugh. “Standing in line” doesn’t count.
Swetnick says that she is “aware of other witnesses” who can back up her story. If this really happened, no doubt there would be dozens of such witnesses, if not hundreds. But if that’s the case, why didn’t the FBI find any of them when vetting Kavanaugh six times over the last quarter century? Background checks dig quite deeply into the past, including friends and acquaintances from high school and college, and the first of those would likely have been no more than 15 years after these events allegedly took place. And yet, none of this ever came up … until the man who wants to run against Donald Trump in 2020 decided that he wanted to kill off Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
If Swetnick can substantiate this, clearly Kavanaugh’s finished. But it seems so far-fetched as to raise memories of social panics of the kind that led to the McMartin Preschool trial and other witch hunts. If that’s the case, this will put a spike through the idea that we should “believe the accuser” rather than evaluate the evidence.
Update: Come on, man.
"Please respect the privacy of the woman whose name and face I just blasted out to the world" https://t.co/o6fmZkQ6st
— Jim Treacher (@jtLOL) September 26, 2018
Update: David French sums it up succinctly:
Please someone help me with this.
Georgetown Prep boys frequently committed gang rape.
Lots of people knew they were committing gang rape.
And despite this common knowledge no one has talked publicly for three decades, until the day before a crucial Senate hearing.
— David French (@DavidAFrench) September 26, 2018
Also, lots of people attended said parties for years despite broad knowledge of gang rapes occurring at them, and no one ever tipped off parents or local authorities. Wut is correct.
Update: Martha MacCallum, the Fox anchor who interviewed Kavanaugh on Monday, has his reaction to Swetnick’s claims:
Statement from Judge Brett Kavanaugh:
“This is ridiculous and from the Twilight
Zone. I don’t know who this is and this never happened."
— Martha MacCallum (@marthamaccallum) September 26, 2018
Or maybe the Duke Lacrosse Case, or the Rolling Stone article about the University of Virginia at Arlington, or …