The Pandora Moment: Both Democratic and Republican Leaders Call For Investigations Over Perjury Linked To Kavanaugh Confirmation

Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the increasing calls on both the Democratic and Republican sides for perjury investigation stemming from the Kavanaugh hearings.  If both parties eagerly open the perjury box, they could find Pandora’s box looks tame by comparison.  (For purposes of full disclosure, Michael Avenatti is a former student of mine from George Washington University Law School).

Here is the column:

As the midterm elections approach, both parties are ramping up calls for perjury prosecutions and impeachment proceedings to reopen the Brett Kavanaugh controversy. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has joined a growing chorus of Democrats calling for the reopening of the FBI investigation on the now sitting justice after the midterm elections. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) has referred allegations of false statements against Kavanaugh accuser Julie Swetnick and her attorney, Michael Avenatti — an act which Avenatti likens to “opening Pandora’s box.”

Of course, as with Pandora’s box, it is difficult to know what unintended perils might spill from the perjury box for both parties. We may be about to find out. The famous “box” actually was a jar, but the story is well known. Pandora was the creation of Zeus in retaliation for Prometheus stealing fire from heaven. Zeus gave the beauty to Epimetheus, brother of Prometheus, along with a jar containing all of man’s evils. Epimetheus could not resist Pandora, who promptly spilled out the jar’s contents, to humanity’s peril. The perjury box is proving equally difficult for both parties to resist, despite many warnings.

Julie Swetnick

Many Republicans are eager to see Swetnick and Avenatti forced to answer questions about her allegation that Kavanaugh effectively led a rape gang in high school – doping and attacking many girls at “multiple house parties” in high school. No witnesses have come forward to support this allegation; even some Democrats have criticized the allegation as undermining the accounts of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez.

Absent a smoking-gun discovery of an effort by Swetnick to mislead, it is difficult to see how a false-statement case could be successfully mounted. The inclusion of Avenatti (who is one of my former students) is particularly concerning, since he represents a woman who wanted to come forward. Even if her account is found to be unsupported, it is a chilling move to seek the prosecution of both alleged victims and their counsel in coming forward to Congress.

Brett Kavanaugh

The referral by the Senate will, however, succeed in one critical respect: It gives Democrats full license to carry through on their own threat to investigate Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh for his own testimony. He denied involvement in controversies tied to his service in the Bush administration as well as the meaning of references in his yearbook and his conduct in high school and college. Once Swetnick spills out, so will Kavanaugh.

There may be a hope that such a fight will not be truly mutual in its assured destruction. Kavanaugh did not deny drinking heavily but simply denied committing assaults or blacking out. That presents a more difficult challenge for investigators than an allegation of a specific act like drugging punch or leading a rape gang.

Christine Blasey Ford

Of course, if Democrats pursue Kavanaugh, Ford will not be far behind. Indeed, that process may have begun. Just as Swetnick’s counsel is facing a possible criminal investigation, Ford’s counsel are now facing their own ethics investigation in representing their client. In a letter to the Board’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel, Judicial Watch alleged that Ford implicated her counsel in ethical violations when she said she was never told of an offer for the judiciary committee to come to her in California due to her reported intense fear of flying. After establishing that Ford routinely flew around the world (and regularly flew to the East Coast), the committee asked why she did not accept the well-publicized offer for the committee to come to her. Ford said she was never told of the offer.

The statement was immediately flagged by some of us as raising a serious matter of legal ethics, given that the duty of counsel is to “keep a client reasonably informed about the status of a matter and promptly comply with reasonable requests for information.” In response to the complaint, attorneys Debra Katz, Lisa Banks and Michael Bromwich confirmed that Ford was informed of the offer, but introduced a curious distinction: “Dr. Ford was advised of all of her options and made her decisions based on the information we provided her. We were never told that Senator Grassley was willing personally to fly to California to meet with Dr. Ford, and that is how she understood his ambiguous question at the hearing.”

The problem is that the question was about “the committee” and not about Chairman Grassley. Prosecutor Rachel Mitchell asked whether “it was communicated to you by your counsel or someone else, that the committee had asked to interview you and that — that they offered to come out to California to do so?” Ford answered: “I just appreciate that you did offer that. I wasn’t clear on what the offer was. If you were going to come out to see me, I would have happily hosted you and had you — had been happy to speak with you out there. I just did not — it wasn’t clear to me that that was the case.”

Ford did not explain why, if she understood she could give a statement without flying, she did not accept the offer when the committee said time was of the essence. Moreover, her prior testimony belied the notion that she was strangely focused on whether Grassley himself was coming to California:

Prosecutor Mitchell: “OK. It’s — I ask that, because it’s been reported by the press that you would not submit to an interview with the committee because of your fear of flying. Is — is that true?”

Ford: “Well, I was willing — I was hoping that they would come to me, but then I realized that was an unrealistic request. … So that was certainly what I was hoping, was to avoid having to get on an airplane, but I eventually was able to get up the gumption with the help of some friends, and get on the plane.”

Ford clearly stated that she understood that “the committee” was not willing to fly to California and it was “an unrealistic request” that “they would come to me.” That is in direct contradiction of television and print stories saying the committee would go to her, due to her fear of flying.

Clearly, much will spill from the perjury jar if it is smashed after the midterm elections. Neither side will be able to object to the investigation of one but not the others. The parable is simple: Like lust, politics often is blind to looming dangers.

Notably, the only thing that did not fly from Pandora’s jar is often translated as “hope,” but a more accurate translation of the original Greek may be “deceptive expectation.” Hope can be both deceptive and destructive — something each side might consider in pledging to unleash the contents of the Kavanaugh debacle after November 6.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University. You can follow him on Twitter @JonathanTurley.

203 thoughts on “The Pandora Moment: Both Democratic and Republican Leaders Call For Investigations Over Perjury Linked To Kavanaugh Confirmation”

  1. I can’t see hiring a full-time staff of fact-checkers to call out every one of Diane/ Irwina’s lies.
    The statement that “Ptom doesn’t post much on threads that are not about Trump vs. Meuller either” is as asinine as it is false.
    I won’t go into an explanation of why I despise liars like Diane; that is pointless.
    If she feels that lying is just “another tool in the toolbox” that she’s justified in using, I don’t know that her particular coven has any doctrinal positions prohibiting or promoting it.

    1. Fine then. So be it. Ptom doesn’t post much on threads that are not about Trump versus Mueller at the same time that L4D is posting on threads that are about Trump versus Mueller. I eagerly await the fact-check returns on that amended claim.

      P. S. Do insinuations about witchcraft count as despicable lies?????

      1. L4Yoga/Annie/Inga enables David Benson, and the NPCs R. Lien and Marky Mark Mark – we will need proof of your none witchiness. Signed affidavits by the members of your coven attesting that you have rejected, on penalty of perjury, Satan. A polygraph by a former FBI agent. We will also need you to be interviewed by Oprah on live TV.

        1. PC Schulte,…
          That reminds me, have there been any indictions that the curses (that she foretold you’d be subjected to😧) have materialized?😉

          1. Tom Nash – did you hear the the warlock POTUS cursed the press corps? He had to borrow a serpent wand, but we can all hope it works. 😉

  2. “Mueller Wants the FBI to Look at a Scheme to Discredit Him”

    “The special counsel says a woman was offered money to fabricate sexual harassment claims.”

    1:14 PM ET


    “The special counsel’s attention to this scheme—which was brought to the office by a woman claiming she herself had been offered money to make up sexual harassment claims against Mueller—and its decision to release a rare statement about it indicates the seriousness with which the office is taking the purported scheme to discredit Mueller in the middle of an ongoing investigation.

    “The special counsel’s office confirmed that the scheme was brought to its attention by several journalists who were told about it by a woman alleging that she herself had been offered roughly $20,000 by a man claiming to work for a GOP activist named Jack Burkman “to make accusations of sexual misconduct and workplace harassment against Robert Mueller.” The woman told journalists in an email, a copy of which I obtained, that she had worked for Mueller as a paralegal at the Pillsbury, Madison, and Sutro law firm in 1974, but that she “didn’t see” him much. “When I did see him, he was always very polite to me, and was never inappropriate,” the woman wrote. The firm has not returned a request for comment about whether the woman actually worked there.”

    1. could be they are trying to gin up a false claim against Mueller— OR–
      could be a false flag, phony “republican” actually a democrat, running a fake setup op to embarrass republicans– who knows!

      a good referral by Mueller, let the FBI figure the craziness out

        1. anybody suborning perjury or false informing should be prosecuted.
          this especially applies to phony sex allegations

          who cares if its a Republican or a Democrat, throw the book at them.

          the instigation of war on men has to be deterred by prosecutors continuing to scrutinize cases carefully. and by men reporting false threats and intimidation by women who think they have a special license to make sex allegations unsupported by fact and law.. actually a very common abuse of the system

          this one thing by Mueller is actually a fine example and excellent public service in itself

          1. i have a long list of bad stories from friends and clients. too many to mention but one I will offer. A 19 year old boy had a consensual act of non-penetrative sex with a girl who was 17. both were of age in the state where occurred. it was at a party; nobody heard the girl complained, and she hung on the boy all night before and after the liason.

            the dad found out after the fact about the party. he was a cop. the girl had no business throwing a drinking party for her friends without her father’s permission when he was out of town. the girl was in trouble for the party she should not have had, and then to deflect she whined about this boy, and then she was intimidated by her bully father into fabricating a false claim of sexual assault against the boy…. the attempt to weasel out of punishment by the girl had escalated…. but it crumbled before effective defense counsel’s representation…… the boy lawyered up and the judge threw the case out of court and scolded the cop.

            just another day in America

  3. The leftist news media hate their well earned title “enemies of the people” and then provide us with yet more proof that they, paragons of fake news, are indeed the enemies of the people

    Pandora moment


    “Bob Menendez and the Shame of the Star-Ledger”

    Compromising and unconvincing.

    It is a testament to the unexpected closeness of the race for U.S. Senate in New Jersey that the leading daily newspaper in the Garden State, the Star-Ledger, felt compelled to festoon its rote endorsement of Senator Bob Menendez with unconvincing apologetics.

    In an editorial uninspiringly entitled “choke it down, and vote for Menendez,” which the paper illustrated with images of the senator evincing pain and embarrassment as he threw himself upon the mercy of the editorial board, the Star-Ledger nevertheless tried to convey how important it was to vote for the crook.

    “Being a patriotic American,” the editorial insisted, “is not just about fighting enemies abroad or helping flood victims at home.” It is about “making democracy work,” even when that duty apparently requires voters to ratify a culture of corruption that saps the public of its confidence in democracy’s capacity for righteousness.

    The Star-Ledger confessed that Menendez “violated Senate rules” by accepting lavish gifts from donors, including private flights to luxury vacation destinations abroad. He also failed to disclose those gifts and went on to use his elected office to promote the interests of the givers. The editorial board failed to note, though, that one of those benefactors, Dr. Salomon Melgen, was convicted of 67 crimes including $73 million worth of attempted Medicare fraud.”

  4. There’s a report from Axios and Bloomberg that Trump plans to sign an Executive Order ending birthright citizenship. I can’t find a link to it, though. It could be another campaign stunt like the middle class tax cut that McConnell is going to pass without Congress being in session. Or not.

    They say that The Fourteenth Amendment specifically states that all persons born in The United States are citizens of The United States. It will be interesting to see if Trump tries to abrogate the Constitution by Executive Order. And especially interesting to see what Kavanaugh might have to say about that.

    1. reread 14th amendment…. says “and who are subject to its jurisdiction” soemthing like that ….. what does this mean? I think it means lllegals that sneak in here are purposefully avoiding the jurisdiction of the US and can be denied citizenship to their offspring born here

      travellers on a valid visa? maybe it should go that far, but, I don’t think it will go that far.

      1. Haha. In legal terminology, “poppycock.” Anyone who paid attention in conlaw knows that the “subject to jurisdiction” term of art was put in to distinguish foreign diplomats, who are not subject to U.S. laws. So sorry for your misapprehension, “counselor.”

        this is to “laws, shmaws, who needs ’em?” kurtzie

        1. More on how the Trumpanzee mind works: “. . . illegals that sneak in here are purposefully avoiding the jurisdiction . . .”

          O! Those wily illegals. Why flee the jurisdiction, when you can walk right into it, instead? (Pssst . . . They’ll never suspect.)

          1. L4Yoga/Annie/Inga enables David Benson, and the NPCs R. Lien and Marky Mark Mark – because if you walk in the finger print you. If you sneak in, they do not know you are here.

            1. The ones who sneak in also walk in. They just don’t walk in at a designated border crossing. Try to keep up. Stay fluid.

            2. P. S. Are foreign nationals under the jurisdiction of The United States before they ever set foot on U. S. soil?????

              1. L4Yoga/Annie/Inga enables David Benson, and the NPCs R. Lien and Marky Mark Mark – ask El Chapo.

                1. Supposing that El Chapo never snuck in to The United States, would El Chapo have ceased to be under the jurisdiction of The United States had El Chapo entered the U. S. illegally?????

    2. Your ignorance of the Constitution is on display. What do the words mean? An intelligent person would go back to read what the authors of the 14th amendment meant and what the people understood it to mean at the time it was passed. I know that requires more effort than you are willing to put in…moron.

      1. not sure who you think is a moron but here is the text since it comes up:

        All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

        Maybe Prof Turley can give us a run down of that one. I expect he is working on a column on the topic right now ! i would welcome it.

      2. Johnny Blowhard said, “An intelligent person would go back to read what the authors of the 14th amendment meant and what the people understood it to mean at the time it was passed.”

        Johnny Blowhard did not say what the authors of The Fourteenth Amendment meant (because he don’t know). Johnny Blowhard did not say what the people understood it to mean at the time it was passed (because he don’t know that, neither). In his own estimation, Johnny Blowhard is not an intelligent person.

        Hint: The authors of The Fourteenth Amendment may have thought they were referring to recently freed slaves and to the descendants of recently freed slaves ever after. Unfortunately, the authors of The Fourteenth Amendment could have written the Fourteenth Amendment explicitly to refer to recently freed slaves and the descendants of recently freed slaves ever after. But they didn’t do that. Therefore, the original intent of the authors of The Fourteenth Amendment cannot have been what they didn’t write. Instead, the original intent of the authors of The Fourteenth Amendment has to have been what they did write.

        Johnny Blowhard is a Constitutional abrogationist just like Trump, or Crazy George, for that matter.

      1. An intelligent person poses an intelligent question below as excerpted from the article linked above:

        Stephen Legomsky, a Washington University School of Law professor and former chief counsel for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said the 14th Amendment’s application to the children of undocumented immigrants was a matter of pure common sense.

        “Like anyone else, native-born Americans, whoever their parents are, can be charged with crimes if they disobey U.S. law,” Mr. Legomsky said. “How would this be possible if the U.S. had no jurisdiction over them?”

        1. “Pure common sense”??? Professor Legomsky must be quite unfamiliar with the thoroughly adulterated forms of common nonsense practiced on Res Ipsa Loquitur, or at the Trump administration, for that matter. But Legomsky did sort of hint at it a bit around the edges. Let’s flush this bird out the bush.

          If the native-born children of undocumented workers are NOT subject to the jurisdiction of The United States nor the State in which they reside, then the deportation of those native-born children along with their undocumented parents would be either non-justiciable (not subject to judicial review) or “extra-judicial” (meaning something closer to an act of war or possibly even a “war crime”).

          Well, that would explain Trump’s plan to militarize the border with Mexico. However, depending upon what happens next after Trump militarizes the border with Mexico, the POTUS, Trump, could be in violation of Treaty obligations or, worse, facing charges for war crimes–maybe.

        2. Excerpted from the article linked above:

          The prospects for refugees hoping to resettle in the United States changed abruptly in 2017. In January of that year, President Trump signed an executive order that suspended the entire U.S. refugee admissions program for 120 days. In addition, the Trump administration suspended indefinitely the entry of Syrian refugees into the country and lowered the FY 2017 refugee admissions ceiling from 110,000 (set under the Obama administration) to 50,000. This pause in refugee resettlement was meant to give DHS and the State Department time to conduct a security review of the application and adjudication procedures for refugee admissions.

          The refugee program did resume—with the exception of nationals from 11 countries (Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, North Korea, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) who were subject to an additional 90-day ban.

          By the end of Calendar Year (CY) 2017, the U.S. government had resettled about 33,000 refugees, while other nations collectively resettled a total of 69,000. When the population size of the nations in which refugees are resettled is taken into account, Canada was the resettlement leader in CY 2017 at 725 refugees resettled per one million residents, followed by Australia (618), and Norway (528). In comparison, the United States resettled 102 refugees per one million U.S. residents.

      2. Fibber Opens The Closet Door Again as excerpted from the article linked above:

        “We’re the only country in the world where a person comes in and has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States for 85 years, with all of those benefits,” Mr. Trump told Axios during an interview that was released in part on Tuesday, making a false claim. “It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. And it has to end.”

        In fact, at least 30 other countries, including Canada, Mexico and many others in the Western Hemisphere, grant automatic birthright citizenship, according to a study by the Center for Immigration Studies, an organization that supports restricting immigration and whose work Mr. Trump’s advisers often cite.

        1. Fibber repeated for a second look from the article linked above:

          “‘. . . and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States for 85 years, with all of those benefits,’ Mr. Trump told Axios.”

          IIRC, 85 minus 65 equals 20 years of Social Security retirement benefits and Medicare benefits. Thus “the baby” has to wait 65 years to collect any of those benefits. If “the citizen” begins contributing payroll taxes at age sixteen, then “the citizen” would contribute payroll taxes for 54 years before “the [retired] baby” got to collect any of those benefits. But what if “the baby” never becomes “a citizen” because of Trump’s proposed Executive Order ending birthright citizenship? Does the baby get deported along with his or her parents? Or does the baby get sent to child services and possibly placed in foster care? And then what? Adoption? Juvenile detention? Permanent second-class status as a resident alien? Where’s Fibber heading with his proposed EO abrogating the Fourteenth Amendment?

  5. There is a benefit in this fool’s errand.

    I’ve maintained for years that there are times when a legislative body works so much against the needs of the citizenry, that any infighting between the politicians serves to benefit the people because they are too distracted to pass bad legislation.

    A dear friend of mine and I used to literally hold a toast to the news announcing a “lame duck Congress”. It was a Stop Loss of sorts, cementing the status quo and preventing any more damage or rights being stripped away from us.

    Allegorically, it was like the infamous fight we staged as teenagers between a Black Widow and a Scorpion.

    We placed the insects in a ring to determine which of the two was the tougher. To our surprise, they did not want to fight at first. We thought they would be natural enemies. So we tried goading them with sticks. Later in life I wondered why they didn’t just join forces and attack us as a common enemy. But they were too evil I suppose to engage in any sort of cooperation. Anyway, finally the scorpion attacked and won. And with who we have in Congress / State gov’t the same allegory applies.

    We have two enemy forces in leadership Dems/Repubs They basically accomplish nothing beneficial to those watching outside the ring until someone starts goading them until they become so agitated they resort to fighting each other instead of tackling a common enemy or problem. They’re never going to change, but at least we can have a little fun being the ones poking them with sticks and watching them fight. It’s a three ringed circus anyway so we might as well enjoy the show.

    1. maybe that is how the gods treat nations. putting us in a ring to goad each other to kill, for the amusement of the gods

  6. What Avenatti does next will not be his choice. The feds are going to barbecue him.

    1. here should be his priorities” 1- repay his debts 2- serve his clients in line with the Rules of PRofessional conduct without all the grandstanding 3- STFU about everything else

  7. Perhaps Democrats are trying to so thoroughly poison the well of Kavanaugh that they will then claim that he couldn’t possible be impartial enough to decide cases. Maybe this will be a decade long assault on Kavanaugh, after which they will claim that no one could possibly be unmoved by the partisan political attacks. They’ll prove Ford, Ramirez, and Swetnick were political fraudulent attacks, then an impeachment case was another attack, and whatever else they can throw at him for ten years. Then they will say all these attacks disqualify him, because they affect how he would judge cases of Liberal defendants.

    My father had an interesting encounter with the Democratic political machine. One of the times he testified before Congress, it was about a topic that the Democrat accuser was already well aware of, because the Pentagon had informed Congress itself. He manufactured an entire crisis and tried to have a gotcha moment, which my father undermined. When he saw him in the hallway, he asked what all that was about, as they had briefed them on this very matter already. He said, well, elections were coming up and he needed something to run on. He knew it was all a lie, and he wasted millions of taxpayer dollars, my father’s time, and everyone else’s time, because he wanted to have a platform. Wasn’t sorry, either.

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