Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley referred for criminal investigation potential false statements made to committee investigators by a Rhode Island man about alleged misconduct by Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
In a statement released by Grassley’s committee office Saturday night, Grassley sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Chris Wray requesting a criminal review of a person who gave information to Congress “diverting Committee resources from an ongoing investigation.”
“One tip was referred to the committee by staff for Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I). While Whitehouse referred the accuser to a reporter, the committee took the claim seriously and questioned Judge Kavanaugh about the allegations under penalty of felony,” Grassley’s office stated.
Kavanaugh denied the accusation during his testimony before the committee last Thursday.
Last Wednesday, Rhode Island resident Jeff Catalan was identified as the man who contacted Rhode Island Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and reported he came in contact with two people with the names “Brett” and “Mark” on a boat in Newport after they assaulted his friend, but that he defended her and left them with “significant injuries.”
Catalan later recanted his claim on Twitter saying, “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 mistake.”
“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 said in the letter.
He added, “Such acts are not only unfair; they are potentially illegal. It is illegal to make materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statements to Congressional investigators. It is illegal to obstruct Committee investigations.”
Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch reacted to the statement on Twitter saying, “Good. Those attempting to delay this process by making patently false smears to law enforcement should be prosecuted.”
The DOJ and the FBI were asked to review the case as a possible violation of U.S. code criminalizing the sharing of materially false information with committee investigators and obstruction of proceedings of congressional committees.