Grass­ley seeks probe of Ave­natti for false in­for­ma­tion

Says lawyer tried to sink Ka­vanaugh

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY STEPHEN DINAN

Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee Chair­man Chuck 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 in try­ing to sink Jus­tice Brett M. Ka­vanaugh’s con­fir­ma­tion.

Amid a spate of sala­cious and un­cor­rob­o­rated al­le­ga­tions, Ms. Swet­nick’s were the most strik­ing: She said she saw him take part in gang rapes in his high school days.

But she gave dif­fer­ing ac­counts of her story and Mr. Ave­natti never pro­duced any ev­i­dence to back her claims up. Mr. Grass­ley ac­cused them of a con­spir­acy to in­ter­fere with the Se­nate’s con­fir­ma­tion process.

The Iowa Repub­li­can, long an ad­vo­cate for whis­tle-blow­ers, 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.

In a let­ter to the at­tor­ney gen­eral and FBI di­rec­tor he specif­i­cally ac­cused Mr. Ave­natti of in­vent­ing sup­posed wit­nesses to Jus­tice Ka­vanaugh’s be­hav­ior.

“I ask that the FBI in­ves­ti­gate whether Mr. Ave­natti crim­i­nally con­spired with Ms. Swet­nick to make ma­te­ri­ally false state­ments to the com­mit­tee and ob­struct the com­mit­tee’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” Mr. Grass­ley wrote.

Mr. Ave­natti fired back on Twit­ter, say­ing Mr. Grass­ley had “opened up a Pan­dora’s box as it re­lates to Jus­tice Ka­vanaugh’s record” — sug­gest­ing he’ll try to force the probe to fo­cus on the un­sub­stan­ti­ated al­le­ga­tions about the high court’s new­est judge.

“Let’s start the in­ves­ti­ga­tion tonight,” Mr. Ave­natti said. “I will make my client avail­able for a sworn in­ter­view and you can make Judge Ka­vanaugh avail­able for a sworn in­ter­view. We also have 9 other wit­nesses we want in­ter­viewed and spe­cific doc­u­ments we want re­quested. Let’s go.”

Mr. Ave­natti did not pro­duce any of those wit­nesses to the com­mit­tee when it asked for cor­rob­o­ra­tion of Ms. Swet­nick’s gang-rape al­le­ga­tions.

In­deed, of the four peo­ple Ms. Swet­nick told MSNBC could back up her al­le­ga­tions, one was dead, two didn’t re­spond to the net­work’s out­reach, and the fourth said he had no idea who Ms. Swet­nick was.

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 spiked the punch at mul­ti­ple high school par­ties, re­mov­ing girls’ abil­ity to refuse sex, then were lined up out­side the rooms where the girls were raped, wait­ing their turn.

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 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.

He also dis­sected Mr. Ave­natti’s in­volve­ment, say­ing the lawyer had “a his­tory of claim­ing to have anony­mous clients who never ma­te­ri­al­ize.” And Mr. Grass­ley re­counted Mr. Ave­natti’s own lengthy le­gal en­tan­gle­ments, say­ing they cast doubt on his cred­i­bil­ity.

He said his com­mit­tee in­ves­ti­ga­tors looked some of them over but stopped be­cause it had be­come like “beat­ing a dead horse.”

Ms. Swet­nick came for­ward af­ter an­other 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, Deb­o­rah Ramirez, said she fig­ured out that 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.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS PHO­TO­GRAPHS

Anti-Trump lawyer Michael Ave­natti (left) was ac­cused by Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee Chair­man Chuck Grass­ley of a con­spir­acy to in­ter­fere with the Se­nate’s process of con­firm­ing Jus­tice Brett K. Ka­vanaugh.

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