Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley has referred Brett Kavanaugh accuser Julie Swetnick and her lawyer Michael Avenatti to the Department of Justice and FBI for a criminal investigation over whether they lied to Congress.
The criminal referral says the committee believes Swetnick and Avenatti potentially committed three felonies — materially false statements to federal officials, conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government, and deliberate obstruction of a federal investigation — in their accusation against Kavanaugh.
Swetnick accused Kavanaugh of facilitating and participating in gang rape parties she attended as a college student, when he was in high school. 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.
The FBI investigated the initial two claims and found no evidence or corroboration of either allegation, but reportedly did not touch the Swetnick claim, which was widely regarded as not credible. Nevertheless, liberal outlets including CNN and Democrats trumpeted the accusation uncritically for days, and used it to artificially boost the number of “credible” accusations made against Kavanaugh. The Judiciary Committee’s ranking member, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, brought up the allegation in the Kavanaugh hearing on Ford’s accusation. Kavanaugh called the claim a “joke.”
He was confirmed to the Supreme Court shortly after the FBI investigation concluded.
“While many of those individuals have provided the Committee information in good faith, it unfortunately appears some have not,” Grassley wrote in the referral. He cited contradictions in Swetnick’s story, and credibility issues with her and Avenatti, who gained notoriety for representing onscreen prostitute Stormy Daniels, as reason to believe they intentionally lied about the accusation to stymie Kavanaugh’s confirmation. The referral also noted the claim diverted committee resources.
“When charlatans make false claims to the committee — claims that may earn them short-term media exposure and financial gain, but which hinder the committee’s ability to do its job — there should be consequences,” he wrote.