Two and a half years ago, a leading Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee referred attorney Michael Avenatti and his client, Julie Swetnick, to the Department of Justice for a potential criminal investigation into their false sexual misconduct claims about Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Now, that Republican wants the DOJ and the FBI to provide an update on the status of that investigation.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) wrote a letter to the DOJ and the FBI this week seeking an update on any criminal investigations into the "bogus" allegations made to Congress about Kavanaugh when he was a nominee to the Supreme Court.
"On October 8, 2019, several colleagues and I wrote a letter to Attorney General [William] Barr and Director [Christopher] Wray requesting an update concerning their handling of criminal referrals made by the Committee following its investigation into allegations of decades-old misconduct by then-Judge Brett Kavanaugh," Grassley reminded federal investigators.
"To date, the Justice Department and FBI have failed to respond to our letter and have failed to apprise the Committee whether, and to what extent, any steps have been taken to investigate and hold accountable those individuals who criminally interfered with the Committee's investigation," he wrote.
"These failures are entirely unacceptable."
President Donald Trump nominated Kavanaugh in 2018 to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. Before his confirmation, uncorroborated and unconfirmed accusations of sexual misconduct were made against Kavanaugh by Christine Blasey Ford from the time when both were teenagers.
Following Ford, others came forward to level false allegations against Kavanaugh, including Swetnick and her attorney Avenatti. Grassley, the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent four criminal referrals to the Department of Justice claiming Swetnick and Avenatti made "materially false, fictitious, and fraudulent statements to Committee investigators."
"For example, one of the referrals related to an individual from Rhode Island who falsely alleged to Congress that Judge Kavanaugh had assaulted a friend on a boat, only to later admit on social media that he lied about the event.Two referrals related to allegations made by Mr. Michael Avenatti and his client, Ms. Julie Swetnick, who accused Judge Kavanaugh of being involved in gang rape activities," Grassley wrote in his letter.
"The Committee identified no verifiable evidence to support the allegations. The Committee found that Mr. Avenatti, who has since been convicted on felony extortion charges, and his client, Ms. Swetnick, had a long history of credibility issues and may have criminally conspired to mislead the Committee regarding those allegations and obstruct its investigation," he continued. "A final referral related to Ms. Judy Munro-Leighton, a woman who claimed to be the author of an anonymous letter stating that Judge Kavanaugh and a friend raped her 'several times each' in the back seat of a car. Ms. Munro-Leighton later admitted that she falsely claimed that she was the author of the letter and its allegations and only claimed authorship of the letter 'as a way to grab attention.'
"These false allegations materially impeded the Committee's work and diverted important Committee resources during its time-sensitive investigation," Grassley said.
At the time, Grassley ordered full investigations of each allegation made against Kavanaugh. He said neither congressional investigators nor FBI background checks were able to uncover evidence of the outlandish and slanderous claims. He also said those who made the false statements to Congress must be held responsible for their criminal behavior.
"Accordingly, I ask that you provide a response to the questions posed in the October 8, 2019, letter no later than April 6, 2021. Your response should include a full explanation of the steps the Justice Department and FBI have taken to investigate the Committee's four criminal referrals for investigation of potential violations of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1001 (materially false statements), 1505 (obstruction), and 371 (conspiracy). If no actions have been taken in response to those referrals, please explain why not," Grassley concluded.