Just days before the midterm elections, Sen. Chuck Grassley asked the federal authorities on Friday to investigate another person he says made false claims against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Grassley, in a letter to the Department of Justice and FBI, said a woman by the name of Judy Munro-Leighton took responsibility for authoring an anonymous letter that made allegations that Kavanaugh and a friend raped her. After she was tracked down and interviewed by Senate investigators, the woman recanted and said she was not the author and had never met Kavanaugh.
Grassley claims the woman is a left-wing activist and told investigators it was “just a ploy,” he wrote in the letter. Her full comments to investigators were not made available and efforts by USA TODAY to reach Munro-Leighton were unsuccessful.
Grassley asked for federal authorities to investigate her on allegations of making false statements and obstruction.
The letter marks at least the fourth request Grassley has made of federal authorities to investigate those involved in the controversial Kavanaugh proceedings, which were extended due to a series of sexual assault allegations surfacing when Kavanaugh was in high school and college.
Kavanaugh has denied all the allegations.
Grassley has thus far asked federal authorities to investigate: Julie Swetnick, who accused Kavanaugh of drunken behavior and sexual assault; Michael Avenatti, her lawyer who also represented porn star Stormy Daniels in a suit against President Donald Trump; and a man, who was never publicly identified but recanted an allegation he’d made against Kavanaugh.
Munro-Leighton was brought into the saga after a graphic and anonymous letter was sent to Sen. Kamala Harris in California. The letter included a story about Kavanaugh and another male groping, sexually assaulting and ultimately raping a woman in a vehicle after a party.
The letter was signed by a Jane Doe from Oceanside, Calif.
The allegations came amid a number of other stories from women, including Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who claimed Kavanaugh had assaulted them when they were in high school or college.
Kavanaugh was questioned about the letter in September under oath and categorically denied the allegations.
“The whole thing is ridiculous,” he said. “The whole thing is just a crock, farce, wrong, didn’t happen, not anything close.”
Several days later Grassley says Munro-Leighton wrote an email that included her name. He said Senate investigators were able to track her down and found she lived in Kentucky, not California, and was a Democrat.
Investigators got in touch with her over the phone and Munro-Leighton admitted she wrote the email after seeing the letter in news reports. She said she claimed to be Jane Doe so the letter would gain attention.
“I was angry and I sent it out,” the woman told investigators, according to Grassley’s letter.
Grassley said the false allegation diverted resources on a time-sensitive matter. It’s unclear whether the true author was located or whether the inidivudal came forward.
“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,” he wrote in the letter to the FBI and DOJ. “But when individuals intentionally mislead the Committee, they divert Committee resources during time-sensitive investigations and materially impede our work. Such acts are not only unfair; they are potentially illegal.”
The timing of the request could help reignite Kavanaugh’s role in the midterm elections. Both Republicans and Democrats say all the controversy surrounding his confirmation could help boost voter engagement in Tuesday’s election.
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