Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) today referred Julie Swetnick and her attorney Michael Avenatti to the Justice Department for criminal investigation relating to a potential conspiracy to provide materially false statements to Congress and obstruct a congressional committee investigation, three separate crimes, in the course of considering Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court of the United States.
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.
“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. “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.”
“Thankfully, the law prohibits such false statements to Congress and obstruction of congressional committee investigations. 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,” he added.
Grassley referred Swetnick and Avenatti for investigation in a letter sent today to the Attorney General of the United States and the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The letter notes potential violations of 18 U.S.C. §§ 371, 1001 and 1505, which respectively define the federal criminal offenses of conspiracy, false statements and obstruction of Congress. The referral seeks further investigation only, and is not intended to be an allegation of a crime.
The referral methodically details the issues with Swetnick’s allegations as relayed by Avenatti, the immediate diversion of committee resources to investigate those allegations, the subsequent contradictions by both Swetnick and Avenatti, the lack of substantiating or corroborating evidence, and the overarching and serious credibility problems pervading the presentation of these allegations.
Swetnick made her allegations in a sworn statement to the committee on September 26. In an October 1 interview with NBC News, however, Swetnick specifically and explicitly back-tracked or contradicted key parts of her sworn statement on these and other allegations. In subsequent interviews, Avenatti likewise cast serious doubt on or contradicted the allegations while insisting that he had thoroughly vetted his client.
Last month, Grassley referred for criminal investigation an individual who made false sexual-assault allegations against Justice Kavanaugh, which were then investigated by committee staff before the individual recanted the claims on social media.