Attorney Michael Avenatti and his client Julie Swetnick have been referred to the Justice Department for criminal investigation for 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,” according to a statement released by the Judiciary Committee.
While the Committee was in the middle of its extensive investigation of the late-breaking sexual-assault allegations made by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford against Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Avenatti publicized his client’s allegations of drug- and alcohol-fueled gang rapes in the 1980s. The obvious, subsequent contradictions along with the suspicious timing of the allegations necessitate a criminal investigation by the Justice Department.
“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,” Grassley said. “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. 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.”
Grassley referred Swetnick and Avenatti for investigation in a letter sent today to the Attorney General of the United States and the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The letter notes potential violations of 18 U.S.C. §§ 371, 1001 and 1505, which respectively define the federal criminal offenses of conspiracy, false statements and obstruction of Congress. The referral seeks further investigation only, and is not intended to be an allegation of a crime. –Senate Judiciary Committee
The referral has an entire section entitled: “issues with Mr. Avenatti’s credibility,” which starts out highlighting a 2012 dispute with a former business partner over a coffee chain investment in which accuser Patrick Dempsey said that Avenatti lied to him, while the company was also “reportedly involved in additional litigation implicating his credibility, in cluding one case in which a judge sanctioned his company for misconduct.”