Attorney Michael Avenatti. Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Michael Avenatti was a hot conversation topic Saturday night at Trump Hotel, where administration officials gathered for happy hour with advisers from the outside groups who poured money and energy into confirming Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

What we're hearing: At one point in the evening, a senior person at one of the outside groups joked that Avenatti might have been on the Republican payroll. "You guys put Avenatti up to it, right?" the person said, according to a source at the party.

  • "I can't overstate how important Michael Avenatti's role in this [confirmation] was" in adding to undecided senators' doubts about the allegations being leveled at Kavanaugh, the source added.
  • The source noted that Sen. Susan Collins specifically mentioned the gang rape and drug peddling allegations leveled by Avenatti's client, Julie Swetnick, when she explained why she decided to vote for Kavanaugh.

I asked Avenatti on Sunday what he made of this criticism. "This is complete garbage," he said, "and reflects an effort by the Republicans to discredit me in light of the comments recently made by Steve Bannon and others. They are threatened by me and rightfully should be."

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