Issues

Kavanaugh Accuser Recants, Referred to FBI for Investigation

Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley and ranking member Dianne Feinstein / Getty Images

Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Chris Wray on Friday, requesting an investigation into false statements and obstruction allegedly carried out in an attempt to stall Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation.

Grassley’s letter described how Judy Munro-Leighton, a "left-wing activist," first portrayed herself as an assault victim of Kavanaugh but then recanted, admitting she "just wanted to get attention" as a "tactic" to derail Kavanaugh’s nomination.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) received an anonymous letter on Sept. 25 from Oceanside, California, recounting alleged assault and rape by then-nominee Kavanaugh. The letter claimed Kavanaugh and a friend had forced themselves onto her in a car, but the accuser did not provide a date, location, or her name. The Senate Judiciary Committee promptly began investigating the claims.

On Oct. 3, Judy Munro-Leighton wrote an email to the committee claiming to be the author of the letter and Kavanaugh’s victim. Grassley describes how, "[g]iven her relatively unique name, Committee investigators were able to use open-source research to locate Ms. Munro-Leighton and determine that she: (1) is a left-wing activist; (2) is decades older than Judge Kavanaugh; and (3) lives in neither the Washington DC area nor California, but in Kentucky."

The committee tried without success to reach Munro-Leighton on Oct. 3, before it voted on Kavanaugh’s nomination Oct. 6. They tried again on Oct. 29. When the committee reached her on Nov. 1, Munro-Leighton admitted she fabricated her claim.

Grassley said Munro-Leighton admitted to committee investigators that she had never even met Kavanaugh. Rather, she opposed his nomination and presented herself as his victim "as a way to grab attention." In Munro-Leighton’s own words to the committee, it "was just a ploy."

The letter follows the referral of another accuser, Julie Swetnick, and her attorney, Michael Avenatti, to the DOJ for possible criminal charges. Swetnick claimed in a sworn statement to have personal knowledge of the nominee's wrongdoing. In a later interview, Swetnick contradicted those same details.

"When a well-meaning citizen comes forward with information relevant to the committee’s work, I take it seriously," Grassley said. "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. It stifles our ability to work on legitimate lines of inquiry. It also wastes time and resources for destructive reasons."