On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee referred lawyer Michael Avenatti and his client Julie Swetnick to the Justice Department for criminal investigation for “providing false statements, obstructing congressional investigations, and conspiracy” regarding salacious allegations against then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Soon after the committee announced the move, NBC News published a damning report detailing “inconsistencies” in Avenatti and his clients’ claims. NBC revealed that an unnamed alleged corroborating witness repeatedly contradicted Avenatti’s assertions about her claims, ultimately telling NBC on October 5, “I will definitely talk to you again and no longer Avenatti. I do not like that he twisted my words.”
While NBC uncovered the discrepancies with Avenatti’s second witness before the Kavanaugh confirmation vote, which took place on October 6, the network did not disclose the details publicly until after the committee referred Avenatti to the Justice Department Thursday.
NBC notes that in its October 1 interview with Avenatti’s client Swetnick, she immediately “back-tracked on or contradicted parts of her sworn statement” issued just days before alleging that at high school parties Kavanaugh “cause[d] girls to become inebriated and disoriented so they could then be ‘gang raped’ in a side room or bedroom by a ‘train’ of boys.”
A woman Avenatti presented as a corroborating witness to Swetnick’s allegations also contradicted claims made in a sworn statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee provided by the partisan lawyer. NBC reports:
In the second statement, the unidentified woman said she witnessed Kavanaugh “spike” the punch at high school parties in order to sexually take advantage of girls. But less than 48 hours before Avenatti released her sworn statement on Twitter, the same woman told NBC News a different story.
Referring to Kavanaugh spiking the punch, “I didn’t ever think it was Brett,” the woman said to reporters in a phone interview arranged by Avenatti on Sept. 30 after repeated requests to speak with other witnesses who might corroborate Swetnick’s claims. As soon as the call began, the woman said she never met Swetnick in high school and never saw her at parties and had only become friends with her when they were both in their 30s.
When asked in the phone interview if she ever witnessed Kavanaugh act inappropriately towards girls, the woman replied, “no.” She did describe a culture of heavy drinking in high school that she took part in, and said Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge were part of that group.
In the second witness’s sworn statement, she claimed: “During the years 1981-82, I witnessed firsthand Brett Kavanaugh, together with others, ‘spike’ the ‘punch’ at house parties I attended with Quaaludes and/or grain alcohol. I understood this was being done for the purpose of making girls more likely to engage in sexual acts and less likely to say ‘No.'” She also claimed that she witnessed Kavanaugh act “overly aggressive and verbally abusive to girls,” and engage in “inappropriate physical contact with girls of a sexual nature.”
However, when NBC contacted the witness “independently from Avenatti,” her story changed dramatically.
She told NBC on October 3 that she’d only “skimmed” the declaration he submitted and, after reviewing it more thoroughly, told NBC in a text on October 4: “It is incorrect that I saw Brett spike the punch. I didn’t see anyone spike the punch … I was very clear with Michael Avenatti from day one.”
Asked about her alleged claims that Kavanaugh acted abusively towards girls, she wrote, “I would not ever allow anyone to be abusive in my presence. Male or female.”
NBC notes that Avenatti had previously confirmed to NBC that they were in contact with the corroborating witness, but when confronted with her contradictory claims, he expressed that he was “disgusted” with NBC for following up and “in an apparent effort to thwart the reporting process, he added in the phone call, ‘How about this, on background, it’s not the same woman. What are you going to do with that?'”
Pressed again, Avenatti wrote: “I have no idea what you are talking about. I have a signed declaration that states otherwise together with multiple audio recordings where she stated exactly what is in the declaration. There were also multiple witnesses to our discussions.” Followed by: “I just confirmed with her yet again that everything in the declaration is true and correct. She must have been confused by your question.”
The same woman then sent NBC a “formally-worded” text about five minutes later stating, “Please understand that everything in the declaration is true and you should not contact me anymore regarding this issue.”
But when NBC called her, she again refuted the claims in the sworn statement, finally telling NBC in a text on October 5 that she will no longer be talking with Avenatti and stating, “I do not like that he twisted my words.”