World / Politics

GOP senator seeks criminal probe of woman who accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault

Reuters, AP

U.S. Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley on Thursday sought a federal probe of Julie Swetnick, who accused Brett Kavanaugh of aggressive sexual behavior before his confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court, and also her lawyer, Michael Avenatti.

Grassley referred them to the Justice Department for criminal investigation related to “a potential conspiracy to provide materially false statements to Congress and obstruct a congressional committee investigation,” according to a statement from his office.

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the referral.

Avenatti came forward with Swetnick’s allegations after Christine Blasey Ford detailed her allegation that she had been sexually assaulted as a teenager by Kavanaugh, a conservative federal appeals court judge chosen by President Donald Trump for a lifetime job on the top U.S. court.

Swetnick said she witnessed efforts by Kavanaugh and others to get girls drunk at parties so they could be raped. She said Kavanaugh was present at a 1982 party where she was raped.

Avenatti released a sworn statement in which Swetnick said she witnessed Kavanaugh “consistently engage in excessive drinking and inappropriate contact of a sexual nature with women in the early 1980s.”

Kavanaugh denied all the allegations and was narrowly confirmed to the Supreme Court by the Senate on Oct. 6.

Grassley said that within hours of Avenatti submitting the statement, Democrats sought to cancel a committee vote on Kavanaugh. He said the committee investigated the claims and diverted significant resources to the effort. He said there is lack of credible evidence that she ever met Kavanaugh.

“When a well-meaning citizen comes forward with information relevant to the committee’s work, I take it seriously,” Grassley said in a statement. “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.”

Avenatti also represented adult film star Stormy Daniels in her lawsuit against President Donald Trump.

He responded to Grassley’s statement with a tweet that referenced criticism from Democrats and others that the allegations against Kavanaugh were not thoroughly investigated.

“It is ironic that Sen. Grassley now is interested in investigations. He didn’t care when it came to putting a man on the SCOTUS for life,” Avenatti said. “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.”

Avenatti said he would put his client’s credibility up against Grassley’s any day: “This is a classic case of be careful what you wish for.”

“The only way you test whether my client’s allegations were true is if you find out whether they were true or not” through an investigation, Avenatti said.

Swetnick herself was not immediately available for comment.