Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley referred attorney Michael Avenatti and his client Julie Swetnick to the Justice Department on Thursday for criminal investigation relating to a “potential conspiracy to provide materially false statements to Congress” regarding now Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
A news release from the Judiciary Committee stated, in part, “While the Committee was in the middle of its extensive investigation of the late-breaking sexual-assault allegations made by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford against Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Avenatti publicized his client’s allegations of drug- and alcohol-fueled gang rapes in the 1980s.
“The obvious, subsequent contradictions along with the suspicious timing of the allegations necessitate a criminal investigation by the Justice Department.”
NEW: In a detailed, 29-page letter Chairman @ChuckGrassley has referred Michael Avenatti and Julie Swetnick to the Attorney General and FBI Director for criminal investigation for providing false statements, obstructing investigations, and conspiracy.https://t.co/ZjQWtnqQOM pic.twitter.com/DNYNGxel4K
— Senator Hatch Office (@senorrinhatch) October 25, 2018
Grassley explained that Avenatti and Swetnick’s actions wasted the committee’s time and appeared to be in violation of the law, which prohibits making false statements and obstructing congressional committee investigations.
“(I)n the heat of partisan moments, some do try to knowingly mislead the committee,” he said. “That’s unfair to my colleagues, the nominees and others providing information who are seeking the truth. It stifles our ability to work on legitimate lines of inquiry. It also wastes time and resources for destructive reasons.”
“Thankfully, the law prohibits such false statements to Congress and obstruction of congressional committee investigations,” Grassley continued. “For the law to work, we can’t just brush aside potential violations. I don’t take lightly making a referral of this nature, but ignoring this behavior will just invite more of it in the future.”
The news release highlighted that Swetnick’s allegations about Kavanaugh being present at parties when there were gang rapes and his being involved in spiking punch to make women more susceptible to sexual advances, made in a sworn statement to the Committee, had “serious credibility problems.”
“In an October 1 interview with NBC News … Swetnick specifically and explicitly back-tracked or contradicted key parts of her sworn statement on these and other allegations,” the release stated. “In subsequent interviews, Avenatti likewise cast serious doubt on or contradicted the allegations while insisting that he had thoroughly vetted his client.”
In his referral letter to the DOJ, Grassley recounted that his committee staff interviewed 10 of Swetnick’s associates trying to corroborate her claims.
Avenatti responded to the criminal referral, tweeting that he and his client welcome a criminal investigation.
“It is ironic that Senator Grassley now is interested in investigations. He didn’t care when it came to putting a man on the SCOTUS for life. We welcome the investigation as now we can finally get to the bottom of Judge Kavanaugh’s lies and conduct. Let the truth be known,” he wrote.
It is ironic that Senator Grassley now is interested in investigations. He didn’t care when it came to putting a man on the SCOTUS for life. We welcome the investigation as now we can finally get to the bottom of Judge Kavanaugh’s lies and conduct. Let the truth be known.
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) October 25, 2018
He added a subsequent tweet: “Maybe if Grassley was actually a lawyer that knew something about the law, he would realize what he has done. He just opened up Pandora’s box as it relates to Justice Kavanaugh’s conduct. It is Christmas in October!”
The Washington Examiner reported Kavanaugh categorically denied Swetnick’s claims calling them a “joke” and a “farce.”
Kavanaugh was ultimately confirmed by the Senate in a 50-48 vote, which fell along party lines, with a few exceptions.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.