Grassley to DoJ: Avenatti committed "outright fraud"

Michael Avenatti demanded an FBI investigation, and it looks like he might get his wish. Senate Judiciary chair Chuck Grassley sent over a second criminal referral to the Department of Justice on the attorney, this time accusing him of “outright fraud.” The letter followed revelations that NBC News buried information that showed Avenatti had materially misrepresented claims in a filing with the committee in order to attack Brett Kavanaugh’s character during his confirmation process:

Yesterday, I wrote to you referring Mr. Michael Avenatti and Ms. Julie Swetnick for investigation of potential violations of 18 U.S.C. §§ 371, 1001, and 1505, for materially false statements they made to the Senate Judiciary Committee during the course of the Committee’s investigation into allegations against Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh. I write today because of important additional information regarding Mr. Avenatti that has since come to the Committee’s attention. In light of this new information, I am now referring Mr. Avenatti for investigation of additional potential violations of those same laws, stemming from a second declaration he submitted to the Committee that also appears to contain materially false statements. As explained below, according to NBC News, the purported declarant of that sworn statement has disavowed its key allegations and claimed that Mr. Avenatti “twisted [her] words.” …

Simply put, the sworn statement Mr. Avenatti provided the Committee on October 2 appears to be an outright fraud. According to NBC News, 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.

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 attached e-mails sent to the committee in which Avenatti demanded that the FBI investigate Swetnick’s claims. On October 2nd, he specifically cited this second declaration as the justification for expanding the scope of the FBI’s renewed background investigation:

This was a follow-up on an e-mail from September 27th, in which Avenatti scolds Republican counsel Mark Davis for refusing to respond to his demands for an FBI probe. This time, Avenatti emphasizes that his client and her supposedly corroborating witnesses understand the implications of perjury, emphases in the original:

Mr. Davis:

As you know, I represent Ms. Julie Swetnick, a woman that has provided a detailed declaration under penalty of perjury relating to the claimed abhorrent conduct of Brett Kavanaugh, including sexual assault.

You and the Committee leadership first learned of these allegations on Sunday and yet have done basically nothing to investigate them. In fact, after I emailed you in detail on Monday morning, you failed to even respond for days. Simply put, you blew us off all day Monday and Tuesday. It was not until yesterday that you finally responded and you only did so then because the press started contacting you for comment. …

To be clear, my client Ms. Swetnick demands the following:

FBI Investigation.The Committee and Senator Grassley must immediately refer this matter to the FBI for a complete and fair investigation. My client is prepared to meet with the FBI today to disclose how she was victimized and what she observed. She is also prepared to disclose multiple additional cooraborating [sic] witnesses with knowledge of the conduct of Brett Kavanaugh and Mark Judge, as well as additional evidence.

In my experience, women that are fabricating stories do not offer to immediately meet with FBI agents to discuss their allegations. The FBI is used to investigate the many of the most serious allegations and crimes in America every day (i.e. 9/11 and the Oklahoma City bombing). Why are you and Senator Grassley refusing to refer this matter to the FBI for investigation or request that they intervene?

Put aside the laughable contention that Swetnick’s claims compared in any way to 9/11 or the Oklahoma City bombing, and focus instead on Avenatti’s demands and representations here. It wasn’t just that Avenatti unwittingly filed a false declaration on behalf of a client and left it at that. Avenatti was using these false declarations to browbeat the committee into action intended to fulfill his political aims.

Also, the October 2nd e-mail is a curious double-down by Avenatti. It came the day after Julie Swetnick’s disastrous NBC interview aired, in which she repeatedly contradicted her own sworn declaration. By this time, Avenatti had to know he was materially misrepresenting the truth with these claims; hell, the whole country had seen the story fall apart on national television. Even so, once again Avenatti insists that this other witness “supports a number of allegations of Ms. Swetnick,” but also states that he won’t supply the redacted witness name unless the FBI agreed to interview her.

Well, Avenatti might get his wish now courtesy of Chuck Grassley, who’s none too amused with Avenatti’s attempts to manipulate the process. The witness now says Avenatti knowingly misrepresented her testimony in the declaration he prepared, which could put Avenatti at risk for prosecution for subornation of perjury under 18 USC 1622. That carries a prison term of up to five years for each count.  He’s also placed Swetnick at risk for a charge of perjury from Grassley’s first referral. If the other witness is prepared to cooperate with an FBI probe, Avenatti will have more headaches than losing his office space in Fashion Island.

At the very least, the bar associations through which Avenatti is licensed to practice law will want to take a very long look at his actions. Stormy Daniels might need to find a new lawyer — although after the debacle Avenatti’s already produced for her, she should already be looking for one anyway.