Washington, DC – The Senate Judiciary Committee chairman on Thursday referred attorney Michael Avenatti, and the Bret Kavanaugh accuser whom he represented, to the Justice Department to be criminally investigated.
U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray asking them to investigate potentially false statements made by Avenatti, or his client Julie Swetnick, related to now U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, CNBC reported.
Grassley’s letter notes "potential violations" of federal criminal law, specifically "conspiracy, false statements and obstruction of Congress."
"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,” the Senate Judiciary Committee chair wrote, according to CNN.
"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,” he continued.
More specifically, Grassley said that when the Judiciary Committee was investigating allegations by Christine Blasey Ford during the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, Avenatti suddenly announced new claims by Swetnick that conflicted with statements made during an Oct. 1 interview with NBC News.
A statement issued by the Judiciary Committee explained the nature of their concerns in more detail.
"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,” the committee wrote.
“In subsequent interviews, Avenatti likewise cast serious doubt on or contradicted the allegations while insisting that he had thoroughly vetted his client," the statement read.
Swetnick's original statement, which was submitted in the form of a sworn affidavit to the committee in September, alleged that Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge were present at a party where Swetnick was drugged and "gang raped."
She alleged that both men regularly attended parties where organized gang-rape rooms existed, and prep school boys waited in line for their turn.
Her affidavit included allegations that Kavanaugh and Judge would "spike the drinks of girls at house parties I attended with grain alcohol and/or drugs so as to cause girls to lose inhibitions and their ability to say 'No.' "
Swetnick claimed to have "witnessed efforts by Mark Judge, Brett Kavanaugh and others to cause girls to become inebriated and disoriented so they could then be 'gang raped' in a side room or bedroom by a 'train' of numerous boys."
"I have a firm recollection of seeing boys lined up outside rooms at many of these parties waiting for their 'turn' with a girl inside the room," Swetnick said in her affidavit. "These boys included Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh."
Then she changed her story when she did her television interview with NBC News a few days later, and said she’d seen the boys near the punchbowl, and the boys outside the door of the rape room became huddles instead of lines.
Kavanaugh, through his attorney, has said that he never met Swetnick.
"He has never met this woman, he doesn't know Ms. Swetnick, he didn't go to parties with her," attorney Beth Wilkerson told CNN.
Wilkerson said she’d talked to other high school friends of Kavanaugh and that nobody remembered Avenatti’s client.
Numerous women who grew up with Kavanaugh and attended parties in the same social circuit came forward during the controversial hearings to support the future Supreme Court justice.
They said they’d never seen him be aggressive toward a woman and that the alleged rape trains never happened.
Avenatti responded to the news of the investigation referral via tweet.
"Sen. Grassley has just made a major mistake,” Avenatti told CNBC. “Let the investigation into Kavanaugh and his lies begin.”
The attorney, who first became famous for representing porn star Stormy Daniels in her lawsuit against President Donald Trump, has said the referral to the Justice Department is entirely political.
Avenatti has been floating the idea of his presidential candidacy for 2020, including a visit to the Iowa State Fair and a speech to at the Iowa Democratic Wing Ding dinner in August.