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Grassley refers Avenatti to Justice Department for second criminal investigation

Senate Judiciary chair seeks Avenatti probe

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley on Friday referred lawyer Michael Avenatti to the Justice Department for a second criminal investigation, alleging that Avenatti had submitted a fraudulent sworn statement to the committee on Oct. 2. Grassley also referred Avenatti and his client, Julie Swetnick, to the Justice Department for a separate investigation Thursday, for three separate crimes: conspiracy, providing false statements to Congress and obstructing a Senate investigation.

Swetnick was the third woman to publicly accuse Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct in September, before Kavanaugh was confirmed. She alleged that he and his friend Mark Judge were present at a high school party when she was gang raped by a series of boys after her drink was spiked. Swetnick also accused Kavanaugh of helping facilitate gang rapes when he was in high school. Kavanaugh vehemently denied these allegations, which were subsequently walked back by Swetnick.

In a letter to the Justice Department, Grassley wrote that his second referral stemmed "from a second declaration he submitted to the Committee that also appears to contain materially false statements." Grassley cited an NBC News report from Thursday that alleged inconsistencies in a sworn statement by a woman submitted to the Judiciary Committee that was supposed to bolster Swetnick's claim.

In the statement submitted, the anonymous woman alleges that she saw Kavanaugh spike a drink. However, in an interview with NBC News before Avenatti published the statement on Twitter, the woman said she never saw Kavanaugh spike a drink, and that she met Swetnick when they were in their 30s. According to NBC News, she told the network that Avenatti "twisted" her words.

In his letter, Grassley said the sworn statement Avenatti provided "appears to be an outright fraud."

"Accordingly, in light of the seriousness of these facts, and the threat these types of actions pose to the Committee's ability to perform its constitutional duties, I hope you will give this referral, as well as my prior one related to Mr. Avenatti, the utmost consideration," Grassley said in the letter.

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