Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has referred Julie Swetnick, one of the three women who accused Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, and her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, to the Justice Department for criminal investigation.
Grassley, in a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray, said Swetnick and Avenatti should be investigated for “materially false statements they made to” the Senate Judiciary Committee during its probe into allegations against Kavanaugh, who was then a nominee to the Supreme Court.
“When a well-meaning citizen comes forward with information relevant to the committee’s work, I take it seriously. It takes courage to come forward, especially with allegations of sexual misconduct or personal trauma. I’m grateful for those who find that courage,” Grassley said in a statement. “But in the heat of partisan moments, some do try to knowingly mislead the committee. 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.”
Avenatti said in a tweet that he welcomes any 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 tweeted.
Through Avenatti, Swetnick submitted a sworn statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee in September that claimed Kavanaugh and his fellow classmate at Georgetown Preparatory School, Mark Judge, facilitated the gang rapes of girls at house parties in the Washington, D.C., area in the 1980s by spiking the punch.
Kavanaugh categorically denied Swetnick’s claims, saying he didn’t know her and calling her allegations a “joke” and a “farce.”
Grassley said in his letter to the Justice Department that committee staff interviewed 10 of Swetnick’s associates in an effort to investigate her allegations. He also wrote that committee staff attempted to interview Swetnick, but Avenatti refused.
“Committee investigators did not find any information to corroborate Ms. Swetnick’s claims,” Grassley wrote. “On the contrary, they received substantial information calling into question her credibility. Based on this and public reports, it appears Ms. Swetnick has a history of making false legal claims and false accusations of sexual misconduct.”
After Swetnick came forward with her claims, she walked back some of the allegations in her sworn statement during an interview with NBC News.
In addition to raising concerns with Swetnick, Grassley outlined issues with Avenatti’s credibility in his letter, noting problems related to the Internal Revenue Service and legal issues related to his involvement with Global Baristas, a company he established in 2012.
“When charlatans make false claims to the Committee — claims that may earn them short-term media exposure and financial gain, but which hinder the Committee’s ability to do its job — there should be consequences,” Grassley wrote. “These laws exist to ensure there are.”
Swetnick was one of three women who accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct in incidents dating back to the 1980s.
The allegations roiled his confirmation battle, which is considered to be one of the most contentious and political fights over a vacant Supreme Court seat.
Kavanaugh testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee at the end of September about allegations against him made by Christine Blasey Ford, a California professor.
Ford said Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her during a party in 1982 and, like Kavanaugh, appeared before the panel during a high-stakes hearing to speak about her allegations.
The Senate ultimately confirmed Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court at the beginning of October in a close 50-48 vote.
The vote came after the FBI re-opened its background into Kavanaugh after Ford came forward. Republicans said the FBI did not find any evidence to corroborate Ford’s allegations, while their Democratic counterparts complained that the probe was limited in scope by the White House.