The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee referred a Rhode Island man for criminal investigation for allegedly making false statements to the committee regarding Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
In a Sept. 29 letter to the heads of the FBI and the Justice Department, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) wrote that the man, Jeffrey Catalan, accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct while on a boat in Rhode Island in August 1985. Catalan later recanted and apologized for his allegation on Twitter. The Epoch Times refrains from publishing the details of the allegation since the accuser has recanted.
“The Committee is grateful to citizens who come forward with relevant information in good faith, even if they are not one hundred percent sure about what they know. But when individuals provide fabricated allegations to the Committee, diverting Committee resources, during time-sensitive investigations, it materially impedes our work,” Grassley wrote.
“Such acts are not only unfair; they are potentially illegal.”
Grassley’s criminal referral came on the heels of a party-line vote by the committee to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination to the full Senate. The vote capped an unprecedented series of events in which congressional hearings were thrown into disarray by the release of allegations against Kavanaugh that were held until the last minute by committee Democrats.
Catalan’s claim was the fifth leveled against Kavanaugh at the time it was referred to the committee. Kavanaugh has categorically denied all the allegations while under oath.
Catalan reported the allegation to Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) on Sept. 24. Whitehouse then referred the claim to the committee, which commenced an investigation and interviewed Kavanaugh the next day. Catalan recanted his claim after the committee released a transcript of the interview with Kavanaugh on Sept. 26.
Kavanaugh denied Catalan’s allegation in an interview with staffers for Grassley and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the committee.
“It’s just totally made up. Ridiculous,” Kavanaugh told the staffers. “I was not in Newport, haven’t been on a boat in Newport. Not with Mark Judge on a boat in Newport. Not with Mark Judge on a boat, not all those three things combined. This is just completely made up, or at least not me. I don’t know what they’re referring to.”
Catalan told Whitehouse’s office that he and another man had confronted two men named “Brett and Mark” in 1986. Catalan alleged he realized that one of the men was Kavanaugh after seeing the judge’s photo in a yearbook photo on television.
During the interview, committee staffers asked Kavanaugh if he was aware of Catalan’s anti-Trump tweets. In several messages, Catalan had called on the military to remove the president.
“A question, when will the United States military decide to do what they have vowed and remove the domestic threat to the Constitution that lives in the White House,” Catalan wrote on June 27, according to the interview transcript.
Catalan also appeared to accuse President Donald Trump of murder in another Twitter message sent in response to Whitehouse.
“Senator should look at missing person report filed by Brighton beach address for a tall, thin blonde with a very Russian name fall 1983 I have a good idea where she is and know who’s responsible. A NY tower builder,” Catalan wrote.
Catalan recanted hours after the transcript was made public.
“Do [sic] everyone who is going crazy about what I had said I have recanted because I have made a mistake and apologize for such [sic] mistake,” he wrote.
Grassley made the criminal referral one day after the judiciary committee called on the White House to order the FBI to reopen the background probe of Kavanaugh. The White House complied.
Democrats on the committee had for days demanded an additional FBI probe of the allegation by Christine Ford, the first accuser, but Grassley dismissed the requests, noting that the bureau considered the matter closed. Republicans on the committee saw the Democrats’ call for a probe as a delay tactic, especially since Feinstein withheld Ford’s allegation for eight weeks instead of referring it to the FBI.
Feinstein instead revealed the existence of a letter from Ford days before the committee was set to recommend Kavanaugh for a Senate vote and shortly after the committee concluded more than 30 hours of public hearings and weeks of pre-hearing vetting. Ford’s letter appears to have been leaked to the media on the same day that Feinstein revealed its existence. Feinstein holds that neither she nor her staff leaked the letter.
The president continues to stand by his nominee. On Sept. 29, Trump told reporters that the reopened investigation of the claims against Kavanaugh may prove to be “a blessing in disguise.”
“Actually this could be a blessing in disguise. Having the FBI go out and do a thorough investigation, whether its three days or seven days, I think it’s going to be less than a week,” Trump said.
The president said of Kavanaugh: “I think he’s great. I don’t think there’s ever been any person who’s been under scrutiny like he has. I think it’s been a very tough process. He’s a good man. He’s a great judge. A great judge. Highly respected for many many years. At the top of the list. I hope that everything works great.”