In the aftermath of the messy and politically charged confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley has formally requested that the Department of Justice and the FBI investigate Michael Avenatti and his client, Julie Swetnick. Swetnick signed a sworn affidavit alleging that now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh drugged and groped women at parties while in high school.
Grassley's call is not only the correct one, but it will also enhance the credibility of women coming forward with sexual misconduct allegations against high-profile men in the future. By establishing that there will be criminal consequences for liars, Grassley is already helping ensure that future allegations will be taken more seriously.
Avenatti had touted Swetnick's claims after Christine Blasey Ford's allegation of attempted rape was leaked to the media (presumably by staff of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the true villain of this parable) and then reported to the public by the Washington Post. Ford's claims seemed at least plausible, even if they were not at all corroborated. Then, the New Yorker reported an uncorroborated allegation that Kavanaugh exposed himself to a Yale classmate at a college party. (The accuser had not even been sure that the person exposing himself was Kavanaugh, until after she consulted a lawyer.) Then came Swetnick and, of course, Avenatti.
Swetnick's claims were pretty far-fetched from the start. First, she said that she attended about ten high-school parties while she was already in college. Kavanaugh was three years younger than her, meaning that even if she had just graduated high school, Kavanaugh was still an underclassman. Second, Swetnick alleged that boys at these parties regularly gang-raped girls, meaning that if she continued to attend these parties without informing police, then Swetnick herself was complicit in enabling organized crime. Third, Swetnick went to Gaithersburg High School, whose students seemingly did not run in the same circles as the boys from Georgetown Prep, Kavanaugh's high school.
With zero corroboration and multiple walk-backs, Swetnick's story seems like, as Kavanuagh put it, a joke. Unlike Ford, whose personal background didn't raise any glaring red flags, Swetnick had previously been served a restraining order by an ex-boyfriend and accused of sexual misconduct herself at an old job. The fact that she couldn't keep her story straight resulted in her charges being mostly glossed over during the confirmation process.
If she did maliciously lie under the penalty of perjury to derail someone's entire life, she should be punished under the full extent of the law.
This is no Monica Lewinsky scenario where she lied about having an affair with President Bill Clinton in a sworn affidavit for the Paula Jones case. Swetnick didn't lie out of fear or intimidation. With the help of Avenatti, who's embraced his role as a Trump controversy whack-a-mole, inserting himself into every possible headline as shamelessly as possible, Swetnick may have deliberately gone out of her way to lie.
One of the primary conservative criticisms of Ford was the notion that theoretically, nothing could stop her from lying. When testifying under the penalty of perjury, this isn't technically true, but if the DOJ and the FBI can actually hold Swetnick's feet to the fire, that point will become a lot harder to ignore, and thus, a lot more women will be believed in the future.
If Swetnick and Avenatti lied, they deserve to go down, not just for attempting to ruin an innocent man's life, but for threatening the credibility of honest women everywhere.