Published: Fri, October 26, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Judiciary chairman Grassley refers Avenatti, Swetnick to Justice Department

Judiciary chairman Grassley refers Avenatti, Swetnick to Justice Department

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) referred one of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's sexual misconduct accusers, Julie Swetnick, and her attorney, Michael Avenatti, to the Department of Justice for "providing false statements, obstructing congressional investigations, and conspiracy".

But Swetnick contradicted that statement in an October interview with NBC News, admitting she wasn't sure if Kavanaugh ever spiked punch.

Avenatti said in a tweet that he welcomes the investigation because it can shed light on "Kavanaugh's lies and conduct".

"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", Grassley said.

"This is clearly political", he told Fox News. "He just cracked open the door and I'm going to drive a Mack truck through it". It also included questioning Judge Kavanaugh in another transcribed interview on September 26, 2018, about the specifics of Ms. Swetnick's allegations after the Committee received her statement.

"I ask that the FBI investigate whether Mr. Avenatti criminally conspired with Ms. Swetnick to make materially false statements to the Committee", Grassley wrote.

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Grassley also cited evidence that Swetnick had made false allegations of sexual harassment at previous companies where she worked. Trump denies the allegation. She came forward late in the confirmation process, after Christine Blasey Ford had accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her in high school, and Deborah Ramirez had accused him of exposing himself to her when they were in college. Ms. Swetnick maintained that she was assaulted at a party.

Kavanaugh vehemently denied the allegations, in sworn written statements and in testimony before the Judiciary Committee. Swetnick's allegations followed shortly afterwards, but were not part of the FBI investigation. Republican senators briefed on the findings said there was no evidence to support the allegations.

Grassley said in his letter on Thursday that committee staff had investigated Swetnick's story, questioning Kavanaugh twice and contacting Swetnick's former associates.

Avenatti "also apparently has a history of claiming to have anonymous clients who never materialize in any verifiable form", Grassley noted, adding that after examining numerous press reports questioning Avenatti's credibility, committee investigators "determined that delving into additional ones would be beating a dead horse".

Grassley said that he doesn't make a referral of this nature lightly but he can't brush aside potential violations of the law.

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