On Thursday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said he would refer Julie Swetnick and her attorney Michael Avenatti to the Justice Department for a possible criminal inquiry into whether they made defamatory accusations to lawmakers about Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. 

Grassley, an Iowa Republican, added that he is also instructing the Justice Department to investigate whether Swetnick and Avenatti attempted to obstruct the Senate Judiciary’s probe into Kavanaugh following accusations of sexual assault and sexual harassment brought by Swetnick, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and several other women. Kavanaugh vehemently denied all the allegations.

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

Kavanaugh, 53, was confirmed to the Supreme Court 50-48 after a long FBI investigation and vote that followed emotional testimonies from Ford and Kavanaugh before the Senate panel over the latter’s alleged assault of the former in 1982, when the two were in high school.

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Swetnick and Avenatti claimed Kavanaugh and his former classmates participated in “gang rapes” of multiple women in high school. Avenatti also directed lawmakers and federal investigators to look into Kavanaugh’s yearbook entries that he claimed contained several sexually suggestive posts.

In a tweet on Thursday, Avenatti said he found it “ironic that Senator Grassley now is interested in investigations.”

“He didn’t care when it came to putting a man on the SCOTUS for life. 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,” the lawyer wrote.

Avenatti is also the lawyer for porn star Stormy Daniels, who earlier this year filed a lawsuit against President Donald Trump over an affair the two had in 2006. Avenatti has repeatedly made strong criticisms of Trump and his administration since he took office last year, and has even said he believes Trump won’t serve out his first term as president.

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