The 2018 Texas Tribune Festival

Michael Avenatti talks Brett Kavanaugh, 2020 run

The attorney at the center of so much of the day’s news talked about what's happening now — and what he’ll do next.

The 2018 Texas Tribune Festival

More than 300 leading figures in politics, public policy and journalism are joining thousands of Texans at The 2018 Texas Tribune Festival to discuss big-picture solutions to pressing policy issues. 

 More in this series 

Editor's note: Some language in this story may not be appropriate for the faint of heart. Consider yourself warned.

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is “completely full of shit,” Michael Avenatti said Friday. “There is no question in my view that he is lying.”

Avenatti, the outspoken attorney representing Kavanaugh accuser Julie Swetnick — as well as porn star Stormy Daniels in a lawsuit against President Donald Trump — made the remarks during an interview with John Heilemann, co-host of Showtime’s "The Circus," at the annual Texas Tribune Festival.

Avenatti was launched into the national spotlight in March when he began representing Daniels as she sought to invalidate a 2016 nondisclosure agreement regarding an alleged 2006 affair between her and Trump. And Swetnick’s accusation has put Avenatti in the orbit of the Kavanaugh drama, too. In an affidavit released Wednesday, Swetnick alleged Kavanaugh and others drugged and gang raped her in 1982.

The conversation in Austin occurred as chaos swirled in Washington surrounding Kavanaugh's nomination. After he was accused of sexual assault by several women in the past month, including Swetnick, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 11-10 to advance the nomination — but the swing vote on the committee, Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, asked that a final confirmation vote before the full Senate be delayed for a week and called for an FBI investigation into the allegations.

Kavanaugh was "over-the-top aggressive," during the hearing, Avenatti said Friday. He compared the event to Justice Clarence Thomas' 1991 hearing, saying that Kavanaugh didn't get "any worse treatment."

In contrast to Thomas, said Avenatti, with Kavanaugh "we're talking about a physical assault aimed at committing a sexual crime." An outspoken critic of Trump, Avenatti has gained a large Twitter following and has become a frequent guest commentator on news shows.

He’s also been toying with a presidential run in 2020: "I'm seriously considering it," Avenatti told Heilemann. In late August, Avenatti posted a three-page document to Twitter outlining his position on 20 central political issues, ranging from guns and climate change to money in politics and the role of the President’s cabinet.

"It's all about matchups," said Avenatti, adding that he has the kind of personality that can go up against Trump and win. "The question is not about who would make the best president."

"If the economy stays as it is, it's going to be a brutal campaign of epic proportions," he said.

Avenatti’s rise in the public arena has been met by some skepticism – he’s been called a publicity hound with aggressive and brash tactics. During the former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen's court proceedings in May, a federal judge admonished him for his “publicity tour,” requiring him to either commit to participating in the case and avoid television appearances, or remove himself from the process. Avenatti subsequently withdrew from the case.