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Op-Ed

Grassley Refers Avenatti for Second Time to DOJ, 'Outright Fraud'

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Dear Attorney General Sessions and Director Wray:

Yesterday, I wrote to you referring Mr. Michael Avenatti and Ms. Julie Swetnick for investigation of potential violations of 18 U.S.C. §§ 371, 1001, and 1505, for materially false statements they made to the Senate Judiciary Committee during the course of the Committee’s investigation into allegations against Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh. I write today because of important additional information regarding Mr. Avenatti that has since come to the Committee’s attention. In light of this new information, I am now referring Mr. Avenatti for investigation of additional potential violations of those same laws, stemming from a second declaration he submitted to the Committee that also appears to contain materially false statements. As explained below, according to NBC News, the purported declarant of that sworn statement has disavowed its key allegations and claimed that Mr. Avenatti “twisted (her) words.”

On October 2, 2018, Mr. Avenatti emailed Committee staff, stating:

(A)ttached please find another declaration from another witness who supports a number of allegations of Ms. Swetnick. She knows both Ms. Swetnick and Dr. Ford. The identify (sic) of this witness will be released to the FBI once they contact me to arrange an interview as she does not want her name publicly disclosed at this time.

The anonymous sworn statement attached to that email contained two key allegations against Judge Kavanaugh, ostensibly based on the “personal knowledge” of the declarant and made “under penalty of perjury.” According to the sworn statement, the declarant, whose name was redacted, claimed knowledge of Judge Kavanaugh being “overly aggressive and verbally abusive towards girls … includ[ing] inappropriate physical contact with girls of a sexual nature” while at house parties in the early 1980s. The sworn statement also said:

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During the years 1981-82, I witnessed firsthand Brett Kavanaugh, together with others, “spike” the “punch” at house parties I attended with Quaaludes and/or grain alcohol. I understood this was being done for the purpose of making girls more likely to engage in sexual acts and less likely to say “No.”

In my previous referral, I noted the existence of this anonymous declaration and that Mr. Avenatti neither provided the identity of the declarant to the Committee nor made her available for an interview with Committee staff. I also noted that, as of then, it did not appear that any media outlet had been able to report any interview with the purported declarant or validate anything in the anonymous declaration.

However, after I sent you my referral, NBC News revealed yesterday evening that its reporters in fact had a series of contacts with the purported declarant between September 30, 2018, and October 5, 2018. According to that report, the declarant denied the key allegations contained in the sworn statement, both before and after the statement was publicly released. Despite the fact the sworn statement Mr. Avenatti sent to the Committee stated she “witnessed firsthand” Judge Kavanaugh spiking punch, she expressly denied this. As noted in the report:

(L)ess than 48 hours before Avenatti released her sworn statement on Twitter, the same woman told NBC News a different story. Referring to Kavanaugh spiking the punch, “I didn’t ever think it was Brett,” the woman said to reporters in a phone interview arranged by Avenatti on Sept. 30 after repeated requests to speak with other witnesses who might corroborate Swetnick’s claims.

According to the NBC News report, after Mr. Avenatti tweeted the sworn statement on October 2 with the name of the declarant redacted, “Avenatti confirmed to NBC News that it was the same woman interviewed by phone on Sept. 30.” The woman reportedly denied the allegation yet again after the release of the sworn statement:

(R)eached by phone independently from Avenatti on Oct. 3, the woman said she only “skimmed” the declaration. After reviewing the statement, she wrote in a text on Oct. 4 to NBC News: “It is incorrect that I saw Brett spike the punch. I didn’t see anyone spike the punch…I was very clear with Michael Avenatti from day one.

The declarant similarly disavowed the other allegation that Judge Kavanaugh was aggressive and abusive towards girls, once again both before and after the statement attributed to her was released. As reported by NBC News, “(w)hen asked in the (September 30) phone interview if she ever witnessed Kavanaugh act inappropriately towards girls, the woman replied ‘no.’” After the sworn statement was released, “(w)hen pressed about abusive behavior towards girls, she wrote in a text: ‘I would not ever allow anyone to be abusive in my presence. Male or female.’”

Despite the fact Mr. Avenatti had already confirmed to NBC News that the woman they spoke to on September 30 was the declarant:

(W)hen questioned on Oct. 3 about the discrepancies between what she said in the phone interview and the serious allegations in the sworn declaration, Avenatti said he was “disgusted” with NBC News. At one point, in an apparent effort to thwart the reporting process, he added in the phone call, “How about this, on background, it’s not the same woman. What are you going to do with that?”

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Mr. Avenatti then reportedly backtracked on this attempted tactic, instead claiming to NBC that he confirmed with her again that the allegations were true, and she must have been “confused” by the reporter’s question. The report says that five minutes later, the reporters received a “formally-worded text” from the woman’s phone number backing Mr. Avenatti.

But when reached by phone minutes later, the woman again insisted that she never saw Kavanaugh spike punch or act inappropriately toward women. She said she’s “been consistent in what (she’s) told Michael.” In a subsequent text on Oct. 5, she wrote, “I will definitely talk to you again and no longer Avenatti. I do not like that he twisted
my words.”

Simply put, the sworn statement Mr. Avenatti provided the Committee on October 2 appears to be an outright fraud. According to NBC News, the purported declarant denied – both before and after the sworn statement was released – the key allegations Mr. Avenatti attributed to her. She stated she was clear and consistent “from day one” with Mr. Avenatti that those claims were not true. And she said Mr. Avenatti “twisted (her) words.” When reporters pressed him on these discrepancies, Mr. Avenatti attempted to deceive them in an apparent effort to thwart the truth coming out.

Accordingly, in light of the seriousness of these facts, and the threat these types of actions pose to the Committee’s ability to perform its constitutional duties, I hope you will give this referral, as well as my prior one related to Mr. Avenatti, the utmost consideration. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter. If you have any questions, please contact a professional investigative counsel in the Committee’s Oversight and Investigations Unit at (202) 224-5225.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Grassley

Chairman

Committee on the Judiciary

To read the original document with enclosures, click here.

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