Trump, speaking to Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro on Saturday, hours after Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the high court, said there should be “consequences” for those who accused the judge of sexual assault. Pirro and Trump both singled out attorney Michael Avenatti, whose client Julie Swetnick said Kavanaugh was present at a “gang rape” when they were high school students.
“Well, he made false accusations about me on another matter, totally false,” Trump said of Avenatti, without elaborating. “It’s a joke when ― just a disgrace that they are able to do it. I would love to see our libel laws get toughened up so you can take people and sue them.”
“Exactly,” Pirro concurred.
Avenatti ― who entered the national spotlight as the attorney of Stormy Daniels, the adult film star who says she had an affair with Trump ― hit back at the president in a pair of strongly worded tweets over the weekend.
“You are an habitual liar and a disgrace to this nation. You again claimed tonight that I have made false accusations against you. Name them!” Avenatti wrote.
Kavanaugh also was publicly accused of sexual assault by two other women. Christine Blasey Ford, a California professor, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that a drunken Kavanaugh tried to rape her when they were high school students. Deborah Ramirez, a Yale classmate of Kavanaugh’s, accused the judge of thrusting his penis in her face at a college party.
Trump and other leading Republicans claimed the accusations were part of an elaborate smear campaign orchestrated by Democrats.
“There were many, many false things that were said about a very fine man, and would have destroyed his family,” Trump told Pirro of Kavanaugh.
“He suffered, Jeanine,” the president continued. “That was really unfair. I watched that very closely. He suffered from false statements made about him, things that never happened.”
Trump has repeatedly called for the strengthening of libel laws. He vowed as a presidential candidate to “open up our libel laws, so when [newspapers] write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money.”
Later, as president, he revived that call in a tweet lambasting the “failing” New York Times.
Trump, however, has no power to change libel laws, which are enacted at the state level, not federal. Experts also have noted that the president does not appear to understand libel laws or the First Amendment.