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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."

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
26 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Liz Cheney's plan to take on Trump

Cheney speaking to reporters after being removed as GOP conference chair yesterday. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) plans to make her purge the beginning of a new movement, with campaign travel, fundraising and speeches to challenge Donald Trump for ideological dominance of the GOP.

Driving the news: Sources in Cheney's camp tell me her message will be the importance of the truth, the need to move past Trump, and a push to articulate conservative policy and substance to combat Democrats.

Exclusive: Stephen and Ayesha Curry join One Million Black Women initiative

Stephen Curry and Ayesha Curry. Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images

Stephen and Ayesha Curry are joining the advisory council for Goldman Sachs' One Million Black Women initiative, Axios is first to report.

Why it matters: The initiative has committed to invest more than $10 billion in Black women over the next 10 years. It comes as banks and large companies are increasingly putting money behind rhetoric about advancing racial equity.

2 hours ago - Health

Axios Harris Poll 100: Pfizer, Moderna reputations soar post-vaccine

Data: Harris Poll; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

America's affections have shifted away from the companies that helped us manage pandemic life and toward the vaccine manufacturers that are helping to end it.

Driving the news: Moderna and Pfizer shot up the ranks this year in the Axios/Harris 100, our annual survey of corporate reputations. Moderna is Americans' third-favorite company this year, and Pfizer came in at seventh — up from No. 61 a year ago.