Brett Kavanaugh may be confirmed to the Supreme Court, but Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley isn’t done with Michael Avenatti.
Grassley referred Avanatti and a woman he represented during the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings to the Justice Department on three separate criminal charges related to impeding the confirmation process. Grassley’s office insists the referral is simply for an investigation and is not intended as an allegation of a crime.
You may recall that after Christine Blasey Ford accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault, Avenatti — who’s risen to fame as the attorney representing Stormy Daniels — announced that he was representing a woman with similar claims against Kavanaugh. Avenatti went on to share a sworn affidavit from Julie Swetnick, who said that Kavanaugh had targeted women in high school with drugs and alcohol, so they could be more susceptible to being gang raped. Kavanaugh has denied all the allegations against him.
Swetnick’s accusation was explosive, and it’s frequently been cited by Republicans — including Sen. Susan Collins (ME) — as a sign of how out of control the Kavanaugh confirmation became.
Now, Grassley wants to get the law involved — sending a clear message that raising the specter of sexual misconduct against a man can have disastrous consequences.
In a letter sent to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray on Thursday, Grassley referred both Swetnick and Avenatti to the Justice Department for a criminal investigation looking into whether they lied to Congress, obstructed a congressional committee investigation, and participated in a conspiracy to provide materially false statements to lawmakers.
“The obvious, subsequent contradictions along with the suspicious timing of the allegations necessitate a criminal investigation by the Justice Department,” reads a statement from Grassley’s office. Representatives for the DOJ and FBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
This referral is the latest effort by Republicans to question the credibility of allegations that were brought against Kavanaugh. Republicans have continued to try to toe a line of saying they believed Ford but also insisted that she was perhaps mistaken about the identity of her accuser. Ford, for her part, said she was “100 percent certain” her attacker was Kavanaugh.
Sen. John Cornyn (TX), a top Republican, has previously expressed an interest in opening an ethics investigation into Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) for how she handled the initial letter she received from Ford detailing the allegations.
The investigation referred by Grassley is yet another example of how women who ask to be believed face towering consequences for doing so.
Read the full letter: