clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

What does Michael Avenatti have on Brett Kavanaugh? What we know so far.

Avenatti claims to have more information on Kavanaugh and his friend, Mark Judge.

Michael Avenatti at the MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on August 20, 2018.
Michael Avenatti at the MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on August 20, 2018.
Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for MTV
Emily Stewart covers business and economics for Vox and writes the newsletter The Big Squeeze, examining the ways ordinary people are being squeezed under capitalism. Before joining Vox, she worked for TheStreet.

Michael Avenatti has entered the fray surrounding Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and the sexual misconduct and assault allegations against him. He says he has some explosive information — though details of the claims, and who is behind them, are unclear.

It all started Sunday evening. Avenatti, an attorney who rose to fame this year for representing porn actress Stormy Daniels in her battle with the White House, tweeted that he was representing a woman with “credible information” about Kavanaugh and Mark Judge, a friend of Kavanaugh’s. Christine Blasey Ford says Judge was in the room when Kavanaugh allegedly sexually assaulted her while they were in high school. Avenatti wrote that he would be “demanding the opportunity to present testimony” to the Senate Judiciary Committee and called for Kavanaugh’s nomination to be withdrawn.

Around the same time Avenatti began tweeting, Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow at the New Yorker published a story detailing allegations from a second woman, Deborah Ramirez, who says Kavanaugh drunkenly exposed himself to her and thrust his genitals in her face while they were in college. (Kavanaugh has denied both Ford and Ramirez’s allegations.)

Avenatti tweeted that his client isn’t Ramirez — and from there, things got stranger.

The attorney began to post emails between himself and Mike Davis, the chief counsel for nominations for the Senate Judiciary Committee, in which Avenatti claimed that he has “significant evidence” of parties in Washington, DC, during the 1980s during which Kavanaugh, Judge, and others would “participate in the targeting of women with alcohol/drugs in order to allow a ‘train’ of men to subsequently gang rape them.” He also tweeted about one of Kavanaugh’s yearbook entries and called for Judge to testify under oath to the judiciary panel.

Exactly what information Avenatti has — or whom he’s representing — isn’t known. The flamboyant lawyer with 2020 presidential aspirations shared on Twitter another email to Davis outlining his requests for the committee, followed by a tweet touting a court appearance with Daniels later in the day. He tweeted on Tuesday that his client, a woman, would likely come forward in the next 36 hours.

Here’s a rundown what we do — and don’t know — about what Avenatti claims to have on Kavanaugh.

What we know

  • Avenatti on Sunday tweeted that he was representing a woman with “credible information” about Kavanaugh and Judge and would demand an opportunity to present testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. He said he would like Judge and others to be subpoenaed to testify and called for Kavanaugh’s nomination to be withdrawn.
  • Though news about Ramirez’s claims broke around the same time Avenatti began tweeting, he clarified that his client wasn’t Ramirez.
  • It’s not entirely clear what Avenatti’s client says happened, but according to the emails with Davis he posted, he says there is “significant evidence” Kavanaugh and Judge were involved in some sort of scheme to gang rape young women in the 1980s.
  • Judge, a classmate of Kavanaugh’s at Georgetown Preparatory School in Maryland and conservative writer, has become an important figure in the Kavanaugh allegations, as Ford says he was present when Kavanaugh allegedly sexually assaulted her. Judge has previously written about his drunken escapades while in high school, including seemingly referencing Kavanaugh (using the name “Bart O’Kavanaugh”) but has denied memory of the assault Ford says took place. He has also said he doesn’t want to testify before the judiciary panel.
  • Some of Avenatti’s suggested questions for the committee to ask Kavanaugh include whether he targeted women for sex or rape at house parties or assisted Judge in doing so, whether he saw men lined up outside bedrooms at parties where a woman was inside as part of a “train,” and whether he was aware of or tried to stop such incidents.
  • Avenatti said the committee should also ask Kavanaugh about an entry in his yearbook that reads “FFFFFFFourth of July,” which he believes stands for “Find them, French them, Feel them, Finger them, F*ck them, Forget them.” He also mentioned the term “Devil’s Triangle,” a phrase that refers to sex between two men and one woman. The Daily Kos published a picture of references to both in Kavanaugh’s yearbook.
  • In subsequent emails between himself and Davis, it becomes clear that Avenatti is pushing for Judge to be subpoenaed and therefore forced to testify under oath.
  • He said his client — who is still unknown — is willing to meet with the FBI for an investigation and take a polygraph test.
  • Avenatti also asked whether some Republican staffers were aware of other allegations against Kavanaugh prior to them coming to light publicly. The New Yorker reported that GOP staffers knew about the Ramirez allegations last week, and then lawmakers tried to speed Kavanaugh’s confirmation up.
  • In the New Yorker story on Ramirez, one of Judge’s former girlfriends, Elizabeth Rasor, said that Judge once “told her ashamedly of an incident that involved him and other boys taking turns having sex with a drunk woman,” but that he deemed it consensual. A lawyer for Judge said he “categorically denies” Rasor’s claim. It’s not clear whether it’s connected to Avenatti’s accusations.
  • According to Politico, Avenatti said on Monday that his client will go public with allegations and more information in an on-camera interview within 48 hours. On Tuesday, he tweeted it would be within 36 hours. He also locked down his Twitter account.
  • A user on the website 4chan has claimed he and his girlfriend are behind Avenatti’s claims about Kavanaugh and they have pranked Avenatti into believing them. Avenatti tweeted on Tuesday that the rumor that he was “duped” or “pranked” was “completely false.”

What we don’t know

  • The identity of the woman Avenatti claims to be representing. On Monday, he tweeted out portions of her résumé, apparently in an attempt to demonstrate credibility.
  • What specific accusations Avenatti or his client may make, and what evidence he purports to have.
  • If and when his client will come forward — he tweeted that she will do so when she is “ready” and his team has its “ducks in a row.”
  • Whether the claims are tied to what Rasor told the New Yorker, or a separate report in the Montgomery Sentinel on Monday that investigators are aware of a sexual assault complaint against Kavanaugh during his senior year of high school after a witness came forward over the weekend.
  • Where the Senate Judiciary Committee stands on Avenatti’s requests and claims.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Vox Recommends

Get curated picks of the best Vox journalism to read, watch, and listen to every week, from our editors.