Lawyer Michael Avenatti – who rose to fame making unproven accusations against President Trump and now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh on TV news shows – has suddenly embraced the long-held concept of justice he ignored when attacking them: “innocent until proven guilty.”
The reason for Avenatti’s dramatic change of heart is blatantly obvious: the lawyer for adult film actress Stormy Daniels was arrested Wednesday by Los Angeles police on suspicion of domestic violence – a felony.
The celebrity porn lawyer denies any wrongdoing and said the allegations of the woman who claims he attacked her are false. “I have never struck a woman. I never will strike a woman,” a defiant Avenatti told reporters after he was released on $50,000 bail.
Suddenly, Avenatti is a born-again civil libertarian dedicated to preserving the right of those accused of a crime to due process of law. That’s a right he and many Democrats who have attacked the president and Kavanaugh dismissed as irrelevant when judging allegations against them.
Avenatti has even said he is thinking about seeking the Democratic presidential nomination to run against President Trump, who he regularly denounces with a long list of unproven claims.
And Avenatti had no problem trotting out a woman named Julie Swetnick who claimed – without a shred of evidence –that Kavanaugh spiked the drinks of girls in the early 1980s at high school parties and lined up with other boys waiting to rape the girls.
At Kavanaugh’s Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing another woman – Christine Blasey Ford – testified that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in high school. Though she presented no evidence, Democrats rushed to praise her and said women must always be believed when accusing men of sexually assaulting them or other sexual misconduct.
The universe has a funny way of making a point.
The news that Avenatti is now accused of assaulting a woman can be seen as karmic retribution. After all, Americans watched for weeks as he and like-minded Democratic politicians reveled in trying to convince Americans that a man accused of sexual assault was guilty until proven innocent, and that the burden of proof was on the accused.
Suddenly, Avenatti is a born-again civil libertarian dedicated to preserving the right of those accused of a crime to due process of law.
“Believe the woman” was to displace due process, which was painted as an archaic, misogynist notion. This most basic concept of justice and fairness was dismissed by Democrats as a needless burden on our system, protecting men who victimized women.
What about the notion of demanding evidence before concluding someone is guilty? The Democrats – including Avenatti – made the point that taking both the accuser and accused seriously, but not favoring one over the other, was now somehow sexist.
The good news for Avenatti now is that our nation’s Founding Fathers were not like him. They understood that fairness, due process and the rule of the law are an important bulwark against tyrants. They knew that without the presumption of innocence any one of us could be locked up for years – even executed – based on false accusations.
Amazing what a difference an arrest makes in changing a person’s perspective.
Avenatti is now complaining on Twitter about how media reports are wrong, and that the news coverage of him is not fair. He sounds remarkably like the man he loves to hate – President Trump.
Avenatti tweeted: “There is a lot of inaccurate reporting out there. … Numerous other ‘facts’ being reported are completely bogus.”
In a statement, Avenatti insisted that he will be exonerated. For that to happen, of course, he will be relying on due process and the rule of law. Good for him. He should absolutely rely on the fairness of our legal system, and not be prejudged in a court of law or in the court of public opinion.
And both President Trump and Kavanaugh have the same rights as Avenatti.
We are reminded of this because unsubstantiated allegations were all Avenatti required to convict and condemn Kavanaugh, an innocent man who has dedicated his life to public service and has no wrongdoing on his record.
The lack of a relationship with fairness and due process regarding his claims about Julie Swetnick has earned Avenatti a referral by the Senate Judiciary Committee for a criminal investigation.
For weeks our nation was subjected to Democrats attempting to assassinate the character of Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing. To do so they weaponized sexual violence against women, transforming it from a serious issue into a cudgel with which to frame, punish and destroy an innocent man simply because he may think differently than they do on certain issues.
Conservative social media made some important points after the news broke about Avenatti’s arrest. Mark Hemingway tweeted: “Wait accusations without proof can be used to unjustly damage someone’s reputation? Avenatti doesn’t have the best grasp of irony does he?”
It is hard to believe that those who were arguing for the destruction of Justice Kavanagh were unaware of how dangerous their actions were. In fact, it is more likely they knew what they were doing, and simply did not – and do not – expect repercussions for themselves.
The good news is, Americans recognized that kangaroo court for what it was, which no doubt led to the Republicans keeping control of the Senate in the Nov. 6 midterm elections.
Unfortunately, in January the House of Representatives will fall under control of the Democrats who implicitly enabled and encouraged the behavior of people like Avenatti.
In fact, some House Democrats are even discussing the possibility of impeaching Kavanaugh. There’s no legitimate reason for that. But what does that matter when the ends justify the means?
Avenatti will continue to enjoy due process of law and the presumption of innocence to protect him – but will no doubt continue to deny it to his political opponents.
But equal justice under the law must be just that – equal. There must never be one set of protections for Democrats that can be thrown out the window for Republicans.
Unfortunately, this is a lesson likely not to be learned by Avenatti, but it serves as a reminder that the brilliance of the American system is its fairness – and it belongs to all of us, all the time.