The last time he and Creepy Porn Lawyer went head-to-head over a sensational allegation made by an Avenatti client, it ended with Trump’s attorney pleading guilty in federal court and implicating the president in campaign-finance violations.
So, this will work out great.
Sure, POTUS will call him a lowlife in a tweet, but will he call him a lowlife to his face at the first 2020 presidential debate?
Avenatti is a third rate lawyer who is good at making false accusations, like he did on me and like he is now doing on Judge Brett Kavanaugh. He is just looking for attention and doesn’t want people to look at his past record and relationships – a total low-life!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 26, 2018
President Avenatti won’t take that lying down:
“False accusations?” Like those crimes your fixer Cohen pled to? You are an habitual liar and complete narcissist who also is a disgrace as a president and an embarrassment to our nation. You are so inept that your “best and brightest” are Cohen and Giuliani. Let’s go.
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) September 26, 2018
Trump pretends he is a tough guy. He is nothing of the kind. He grew up spoiled with a silver spoon in his mouth and a gold toilet under his butt. He was handed everything. That is why the majority of America & the UN laughs at him and calls him a con. But at least Putin is a fan
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) September 26, 2018
Two very basic points. One: Our politics is complete and total garbage. I’m embarrassed that any of us participate in it. Two: Trump’s apparent decision to become lead advocate for Kavanaugh in public feels … not so smart.
President Donald Trump has grown increasingly dissatisfied with the way Brett Kavanaugh has defended himself in wake of sexual assault allegations that have threatened to derail his Supreme Court nomination, multiple sources tell CNN.
It has led the President to believe that he must personally take charge of defending his embattled nominee ahead of Thursday’s critical appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Trump made the decision to hold a news conference on the eve of the hearing, making it the fourth he has held as president…
Trump, who watched the [Fox News] interview, thought Kavanaugh appeared “wooden,” according to one person familiar with the President’s thinking, and told several other allies he should have been more aggressive in his defense.
“They could have pushed it through two weeks ago and we wouldn’t be talking about this right now, which is what I would have preferred,” he said earlier today about McConnell and Grassley postponing the vote to hear Ford’s testimony.
None of his advice here is bad from a standpoint of pure power politics, really. Kavanaugh actually might have benefited from more indignation during his Fox interview. The most memorable line of the Clarence Thomas hearings, after all, was the one about the hearing being a high-tech lynching of uppity blacks. Thomas emerged from that hearing a popular figure. The idea of Trump playing bad cop against Kavanaugh’s accusers publicly while Kavanaugh plays good cop isn’t as terrible as it seems either. He was pretty effective yesterday. And POTUS’s support keeps Republican voters firmly behind the nominee and thus keeps the pressure on Collins and Murkowski to vote yes. Unless Trump tweets something that’s over the top even by his usual standards — “When will these whores stop lying?!” — he likely won’t do much harm. This process is already so filthy with politics that the great polarizer’s entry into it can’t realistically make it much worse. And the public has already been well conditioned to overlook outre things that the president tweets. If he crosses the a line in what he says about an accuser, it’ll simply be a case of Trump being Trump. At worst, Kavanaugh might have to distance himself from it.
If you care, though, about knowing whether a guy might be a rapist before we hand him the most prestigious position in American jurisprudence then McConnell and Grassley made the right move in pausing. Trump presumably does not: He wants a win at all costs and probably fears, reasonably, that Kavanaugh blowing up now might deprive him of the last chance he’ll have to fill a Court vacancy. If views of the Court itself take a hit in the process because of sex-crime suspicions around Kavanaugh, so be it. Trump also has firsthand experience with being hit with sexual-assault allegations right before a big vote, of course, and he powered through it and prevailed. So can Kavanaugh! I think McConnell and Grassley probably look at that reasoning, though, and think, “Our opponents in November aren’t as unlikable as Hillary Clinton was.” Trump is willing to gamble Senate seats in the name of getting Kavanaugh through, McConnell and Grassley are less willing for understandable reasons. That’s why there’s a mismatch in enthusiasm about holding a vote ASAP or not.
The real risk of Trump wading into this isn’t that he’s going to tweet something incendiary, it’s that he’s going to leave McConnell with no option but to plow ahead even if the politics turn rancid. There’s no scenario in which Trump will back down, even if Avenatti produces witnesses who corroborate Julie Swetnick’s account. His “but he fights!” image depends on it. McConnell won’t let his caucus bleed from this forever, though, even with Trump lashing Senate Republicans to confirm the nominee. Probably what he’ll do if this gets worse is whisper to Collins, Murkowski, and Flake to publicly declare their opposition to the nominee so that he can go to Trump and Kavanaugh and say that it won’t be brought to the floor. Until this morning I think McConnell was fully intent on holding a floor vote, even if Kavanaugh got borked, because he thought red-state Democrats would end up paying the biggest political price. The more allegations there are against the nominee, though, the tougher that vote gets for his own caucus. Unless something happens to spoil Swetnick’s claims, McConnell’s going to be stuck with an impossible choice between angering righties or angering battleground voters who started to sour on Kavanaugh even before today’s accusation.
Exit question: Would punting all of this to the FBI at this point help McConnell or Grassley? It would get it off their plate for a few days at least. What happens on Monday, though, when the Bureau comes back and says, “Here are the transcripts of our interviews with key players, we make no judgment as to their veracity”? What good would that do anyone?