AP NEWS

Senate tells FBI to investigate Michael Avenatti over Kavanaugh accusations

October 25, 2018 GMT

Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley asked the Justice Department Thursday to investigate anti-Trump lawyer Michael Avenatti and his client Julie Swetnick, saying they likely fed senators “materially false” information by accusing Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh of involvement in gang rapes.

Mr. Grassley said Ms. Swetnick gave multiple versions of her story and said the timing of the allegations was so suspect that it deserves a full investigation.

The Iowa Republican, long an advocate for whistleblowers, said he welcomed “well-meaning” complaints from citizens.

“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 said.

Ms. Swetnick, in a sworn statement provided by Mr. Avenatti to the committee, laid out a host of allegations that Justice Kavanaugh and a school chum were complicit in multiple gang rapes of girls during high school parties in the 1980s.

In an interview with MSNBC, though, Ms. Swetnick backed off some of those claims and gave a different version of events, saying she only suspected Justice Kavanaugh may have been involved because he was near a punch bowl.

Mr. Grassley said in his letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Christopher A. Wray that it’s doubtful Ms. Swetnick even knew Justice Kavanaugh, since they went to different schools with different social circles, and Kavanaugh friends came forward to say they didn’t remember ever encountering Ms. Swetnick.

“The only apparent commonality between Ms. Swetnick and Judge Kavanaugh is that they both lived in Montgomery County, Maryland in the early 1980s. That is not particularly meaningful for determining whether they knew each other,” the senator wrote.

Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation process was sidetracked last month after a woman who claimed she was assaulted by the judge at a high school party had her identity leaked. That woman, Christine Blasey Ford, would later testify at a dramatic Senate hearing, followed by Justice Kavanaugh who refuted her claims.

Yet another woman said Justice Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a college party.

Both of those allegations were probed by the FBI, which found no corroboration.

But the FBI did not bother to probe Ms. Swetnick’s allegations. Most lawmakers on Capitol dismissed her claims out of hand though several Democrats did use them against Justice Kavanaugh in questioning.

Mr. Grassley has already referred another accuser a man who said Justice Kavanaugh raped a friend of his on a boat, then recanted for prosecution.

Mr. Avenatti, who also represents pornographic actress Stormy Daniels, has turned his anti-Trump activities into a nascent presidential bid.

On Twitter Thursday he called Mr. Grassley’s interest in Ms. Swetnick’s allegations “ironic.”

“He didn’t care when it came to putting a man on the SCOTUS for life. 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,” Mr. Avenatti said.