WASHINGTON — Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley on Thursday announced he’s referred attorney Michael Avenatti and Kavanaugh accuser Julie Swetnick for criminal investigation regarding a potential “conspiracy” to provide false statements to Congress and to obstruct justice.
Avenatti, who represented porn star Stormy Daniels in a failed defamation suit against President Donald Trump, also represented Swetnick, who accused newly appointed Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of being part of “gang” and “train” rapes at high school parties she claims to have attended in the 1980s, claims that Kavanaugh has vehemently denied.
In a letter written to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray on Thursday, Grassley questioned the timing of Swetnick and Avenatti’s allegations.
“When a well-meaning citizen comes forward with information relevant to the committee’s work, I take it seriously. It takes courage to come forward, especially with allegations of sexual misconduct or personal trauma. I’m grateful for those who find that courage,” Grassley wrote.
“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,” Grassley went on. “It stifles our ability to work on legitimate lines of inquiry. It also wastes time and resources for destructive reasons.”
In the letter, Grassley called out contradictory statements made by both Avenatti and Swetnick in media interviews, specifically citing an NBC interview on Oct. 1, when Swetnick withdrew a claim that she saw Kavanaugh spiking punch at the parties with alcohol and/or drugs.
“I saw [Kavanaugh] giving red solo cups to quite a few girls,” Swetnick later admitted during the interview, adding that she didn’t “know what he did.”
Swetnick merely claimed she “saw him” by the punch—a comment that contradicted her sworn statement to the committee, Grassley pointed out.
An angry Avenatti was quick to fire back.
“This is clearly political,” he told Fox News. “And fortunately for us, Senator Grassley isn’t too smart — or I should say bright. This was a major mistake on his part. He just cracked open the door and I’m going to drive a Mack Truck through it.”
Avenatti then took to Twitter to call Grassley out, referencing what he referred to as Justice Kavanaugh’s ongoing “lies”.
“It is ironic that Senator Grassley now is interested in investigations,” Avenatti tweeted. “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.”
New York, N.Y. (New York Post) — As FBI Director Christopher Wray started giving his response to the blistering report on the Hillary Clinton investigation, I hoped he would accept the findings as proof that the agency lost its way and must be shaken to its foundation. By the time he finished talking, I felt naive for daring to hope.
Wray’s performance was worse than disappointing. It was infuriating proof that it will take more than one election to change the corrupt culture of Washington.
Wray replaced the ousted James Comey, whose conduct in the Clinton probe was shredded by Inspector General Michael Horowitz. Investigators demonstrated with new details that the self-righteous Comey was insubordinate and duplicitous, and even used private email for government business while he investigated Clinton over her private, unsecured server. Talk about arrogance.
The report ends forever the illusion that Comey was a noble public servant. He served only himself and is now so toxic to both parties that it’s unlikely he will ever get another government job. Hallelujah.
But the FBI didn’t stink only from the head. The report paints an agency run amok, with numerous examples of serious misconduct by leaders, agents and lawyers.
We learned of more outrageous texts from Peter Strzok, the top agent who worked on both the Clinton and Russia investigations. In one, Strzok promised his lover, former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, that “We’ll stop” Donald Trump from becoming president.
Horowitz found another unidentified FBI employee who, in a message to a colleague, echoed Clinton’s “deplorables” slur by calling Trump supporters “all poor to middle class, uneducated, lazy POS that think he will magically grant them jobs for doing nothing.”
Yet another one sent “heads up” emails to Clinton campaign boss John Podesta and lobbied to get his kid a job on the campaign. The report also found numerous agents having improper media contacts, with some accepting gifts.
The mystery of leaks is a mystery no more. The FBI was a giant faucet.
Except to Christopher Wray, who acted as if the disturbing findings were just another day at the office. While saying the report shows “we’ve got some work to do,” he stressed its limited scope.
“It’s focused on a specific set of events back in 2016, and a small number of FBI employees connected with those events,” he said. “Nothing in the report impugns the integrity of our workforce as a whole, or the FBI as an institution.”
Right — and otherwise, Mrs. Lincoln, did you enjoy the play?
Both Comey and his top deputy, Andrew McCabe, were fired, agents are being investigated for partisan conduct, Congress is in an uproar about FBI stonewalling of documents and public trust is plummeting. But Wray is the consummate company man as he sings the agency’s praises while suggesting the dirty doings are no big deal.
“The report did not find any evidence of political bias or improper consideration actually impacting the investigation under review,” he boasted, then diminished the improper behavior as mere “errors of judgment, violations of or disregard for policy, and decisions that, at the very least, in hindsight, were not the best choices.”
His bias bar is so low, it would never pass muster in an ordinary criminal trial. Imagine a case where the defendant is black and all the jurors have identified themselves as white racists. Would it be considered a fair trial if they found the defendant guilty just because they didn’t make racist comments during deliberations?
By circling the wagons, Wray shows he is unprepared to carry out big changes. That makes it three strikes at Justice, as Wray joins Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein as Trump’s biggest whiffs.
They are worse than weak links. They simply don’t see themselves as being part of the same administration.
Sessions’ recusal from the Russia probe turned Trump’s fate over to Rosenstein, who is acting much as Comey acted — above accountability.
He and Wray are withholding key documents that House Republicans want about the suspect FBI probe of Trump. Rosenstein threatened to subpoena House members and their staff for daring to question his actions, a chilling abuse of power that reveals his disdain for legitimate oversight.
Despite its otherwise good work, the inspector general report becomes part of the problem by refusing to second-guess Comey’s approach to the Clinton case, saying his choices were matters of discretion that fell within guidelines. Yet the approach Comey chose smacks of politics, with Clinton given every benefit of the doubt and remarkable deference.
Moreover, political bias doesn’t need to be confessed to when President Barack Obama said publicly that Clinton did nothing wrong while the probe continued. Similarly, Horowitz faults then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch for meeting with Bill Clinton before the conclusion, but calls it only “an error in judgment.”
Another shortcoming is outside the report’s scope, but can’t be ignored. The kid-glove treatment Clinton got stands in sharp contrast to the harsh way Trump and his team are being treated in the Russia probe.
Guilty pleas and indictments, capped by Paul Manafort’s jailing Friday, show special counsel Robert Mueller is playing prosecutor hardball even though he works under the same Justice Department rules Comey used to give Clinton a free pass. Political bias is the only way to explain the disparity.
Some 19 months after Trump was elected, the schism his triumph reflected is hardening. Instead of giving all Americans reasons to trust their government, Sessions, Rosenstein, Wray and Mueller act as if they are the law and everybody else should shut up.
Endless conflict will be their legacy.
Washington, D.C. (Fox News) — President Trump blasted the “Criminal Deep State” early Wednesday, suggesting things have “turned around” in “SPYGATE,” following revelations of a reported FBI informant snooping on the Trump campaign.
“Look how things have turned around on the Criminal Deep State. They go after Phony Collusion with Russia, a made up Scam, and end up getting caught in a major SPY scandal the likes of which this country may never have seen before! What goes around, comes around!” Trump tweeted Wednesday morning.
Minutes later, the president added: “SPYGATE could be one of the biggest political scandals in history!”
The president’s tweets come after reports that an FBI informant communicated with at least three members of his campaign—Foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, Trump aide Carter Page and campaign adviser Sam Clovis.
Trump then went on to quote former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who discussed the issue of an FBI informant Tuesday during ABC’s “The View.”
“’Trump should be happy that the FBI was SPYING on his campaign’ No, James Clapper, I am not happy. Spying on a campaign would be illegal, and a scandal to boot!” Trump tweeted.
The Justice Department instructed its inspector general to investigate any alleged “impropriety or political motivation” in the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference and potential collusion with Trump campaign associates during the 2016 presidential election, following demands from Trump.
“I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes—and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!” the president tweeted Sunday.
Earlier this week, the president met with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray in the Oval Office, discussing the expansion of Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s investigation to include “irregularities” with the FBI or DOJ’s “tactics concerning the Trump campaign.”
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders also said that during the meeting, the three agreed that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly would “immediately set up a meeting with the FBI, DOJ, and DNI together with congressional leaders to review highly classified and other information they have requested.”
That meeting is slated for Thursday, and will be with House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, Wray, and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats. Kelly will not attend the meeting — his role was simply to coordinate.
“If they had spies in my campaign…for political purposes, that would be unprecedented,” Trump said Tuesday during a meeting in the Oval Office with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, calling it a “disgrace.”
“I hope there weren’t,” Trump said. “[If there were], it would make every political event ever before look like small potatoes.”