Senate Judiciary Committee sends criminal referral for Michael Avenatti to Justice Department

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  • The Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee referred anti-Trump lawyer Michael Avenatti and his client Julie Swetnick to the Justice Department for a criminal investigation on Thursday.
  • Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa sent the referral for “potential conspiracy to provide materially false statements to Congress and obstruct a congressional committee investigation.”
  • Avenatti responded by welcoming any investigation.

WASHINGTON – The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee referred lawyer Michael Avenatti and his client Julie Swetnick, who accused Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of being present during sexual assaults and “gang rape” in the 1980s, for a criminal investigation by the Justice Department on Thursday.

In a statement, Sen. Chuck Grassley, the top Republican on the committee, sent the referral for a criminal investigation “relating to 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.”

“When a well-meaning citizen comes forward with information relevant to the committee’s work, I take it seriously,” Grassley said in a statement. “It takes courage to come forward, especially with allegations of sexual misconduct or personal trauma. I’m grateful for those who find that courage. 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,” he added. “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 sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray detailing Avenatti and Swetnick’s claims, as well as listing contradictions and alleging the ordeal diversions of committee resources during the confirmation process for then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Avenatti responded to the referral shortly after the committee released their statement, saying he welcomes any investigation.

“It is ironic that Senator Grassley now is interested in investigations,” Avenatti wrote on Twitter. “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.”

The claims by Avenatti’s client – and his involvement in the process – bothered many Democrats. Some called his involvement in the confirmation battle unhelpful and a “distraction.”

“Do I think he’s in it for the showbiz part? I hope not,” Montana Sen. Jon Tester told Business Insider days before Kavanaugh’s confirmation. “It’s too serious of a situation.”