US

Sen. Chuck Grassley refers Michael Avenatti and Julie Swetnick to the DOJ for criminal investigation

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has referred Julie Swetnick (right) and her attorney, Michael Avenatti (left) to the Department of Justice for a possible criminal investigation over her allegations against U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. (Image source: YouTube screenshot)

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) referred attorney Michael Avenatti and his client, Julie Swetnick, to the Department of Justice on Thursday for a possible criminal investigation.

Grassley said Avenatti and Swetnick may have violated federal laws by presenting Swetnick's sexual assault allegations against U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and then contradicting the claims. Grassley claimed in his letter that Avenatti and Swetnick's actions impeded the work of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

What are the details?

In a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Chris Wray, Grassley referred Swetnick and 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."

Grassley explained:

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.

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 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.

On Sept. 26, Swetnick leveled a series of allegations against Kavanaugh in a sworn statement to the Judiciary Committee. In announcing the referrals of Swetnick and her attorney, a committee news release stated that, "In an October 1 interview with NBC News, however, Swetnick specifically and explicitly backtracked or contradicted key parts of her sworn statement on these and other allegations."

"In subsequent interviews, Avenatti likewise case serious doubt on or contradicted the allegations while insisting that he had thoroughly vetted his client," the release continued.

How did Avenatti respond?

After news broke of the referrals on Thursday, Avenatti lashed out at Grassley on Twitter, saying, "It is ironic that Senator Grassley now is interested in investigations," and added that he and his client "welcome the investigation as now we can finally get to the bottom of Judge Kavanaugh's lies and conduct."

One last thing…
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