Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) on Thursday referred lawyer Michael Avenatti and his client Julie Swetnick — one of the women who accused now-Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh of misconduct during his confirmation proceedings — to the Department of Justice for a criminal probe, alleging that they made "materially false" statements to Grassley's committee as it investigated the allegations.
Swetnick said in a September affidavit that Kavanaugh attended a 1982 house party during which she says she was gang raped — an accusation Kavanaugh vehemently denied and said was from the "Twilight Zone." Grassley said he is asking the Justice Department to look into whether Swetnick and Avenatti potentially conspired to give materially false statements to Congress and obstruct a congressional investigation.
"The committee's investigation has involved communicating with numerous individuals claiming to have relevant information," Grassley wrote in a letter to Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Christopher A. Wray. "While many of those individuals have provided the committee information in good faith, it unfortunately appears some have not."
The committee, in a news release, said the "obvious, subsequent contradictions" from Avenatti, as well as the "suspicious timing of the allegations," warrants a federal investigation.
In a separate statement, Grassley also said knowingly misleading congressional investigators is "unfair to my colleagues, the nominees" and other witnesses as a waste of resources for "destructive reasons."
Avenatti responded to the news of the criminal referral on Twitter, calling it "ironic" that Grassley is "now interested in investigations." He appeared to be speaking on behalf of himself and Swetnick.
"He didn't care when it came to putting a man on the SCOTUS for life," he tweeted, referring to the Supreme Court. "We welcome the investigation as now we can finally get to the bottom of Judge Kavanaugh's lies and conduct. Let the truth be known."