**UPDATED October 26, 2018, to include details of a second referral regarding Michael Avenatti following a news report that an anonymous declaration he submittted to the committee didn't reflect the declarant's experience.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley 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.
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.”
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.
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.
made her allegations in a sworn
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.
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
full letter of referral of Swetnick and Avenatti can be found HERE
Grassley later referred
Avenatti to the Justice Department and FBI for additional investigation after a news report
cast doubt on the veracity of allegations in a second anonymous statement Avenatti provided to the committee. According to the news report, the anonymous declarant claimed Avenatti "twisted [her] words."