Grassley again refers Avenatti to DOJ for criminal investigation

Grassley again refers Avenatti to DOJ for criminal investigation
© Stefani Reynolds

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGrassley raises concerns about objectivity of report critical of GOP tax law's effects Overnight Health Care: Key Trump drug pricing proposal takes step forward | Missouri Planned Parenthood clinic loses bid for license | 2020 Democrats to take part in Saturday forum on abortion rights Key Trump proposal to lower drug prices takes step forward MORE (R-Iowa) announced Friday that he is issuing a second criminal referral regarding lawyer Michael Avenatti.

Grassley announced the move a day after referring Avenatti and his client, Julie Swetnick, to the Justice Department for a potential criminal investigation into whether they made false statements to Congress about Supreme Court Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughStephen King: 'It's time for Susan Collins to go' EXCLUSIVE — Trump: I would fill Supreme Court vacancy before 2020 election Supreme Court rules against newspaper over information request, giving confidentiality win to businesses MORE.

The GOP chairman indicated that the second referral was precipitated by an NBC News report on Thursday, which contended that Swetnick denied making key allegations, saying that Avenatti “twisted [her] words.”

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Grassley wrote that based on the NBC report, “the purported declarant denied — both before and after the sworn statement was released — the key allegations Mr. Avenatti attributed to her.”

“She stated she was clear and consistent 'from day one' with Mr. Avenatti that those claims were not true. And she said Mr. Avenatti 'twisted [her] words.' When reporters pressed him on these discrepancies, Mr. Avenatti attempted to deceive them in an apparent effort to thwart the truth coming out," Grassley wrote.

Avenatti responded in a statement to The Hill, calling Grassley's referral "complete garbage."

"We want the investigation started this weekend so we can show how full of crap Grassley is ASAP. He knows nothing about the law, which is not surprising seeing as he never attended law school," he added.

Avenatti also tweeted about Grassley's move Friday night, asserting that "he has placed Kavanaugh at risk of being removed from the SCOTUS." 

Grassley's original referral questioned whether Swetnick and Avenatti made false statements to Congress about Kavanaugh during his confirmation process.

"The law prohibits such false statements to Congress and obstruction of congressional committee investigations," Grassley said in a statement on Thursday.

"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."

Swetnick alleged in a sworn declaration released by Avenatti during Kavanaugh's confirmation process last month that Kavanaugh was at a party where she was gang-raped in the 1980s.

Kavanaugh vehemently denied the claim, along with allegations of sexual misconduct from two other women stemming from his days in high school and college.

He was confirmed by the Senate on Oct. 6.