The Senate Judiciary Committee made a criminal referral Saturday for the Rhode Island man who claimed Judge Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted his friend on a boat in 1985, asking that he be prosecuted for lying to Congress.
In a letter, Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) asks Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray that the accuser, whose name was redacted, be investigated for “potential violations of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1001 and 1505, for materially false statements [he] made to the Committee as part of its investigation of allegations against Judge Kavanaugh.”
The accuser’s name has been redacted in all Senate documents since this allegation first became public with the release of a transcript from Kavanaugh’s Monday conference call under penalty of felony, in which he cateogorically denied it. Journalists, however, were quickly able to find the social media account referenced along with the allegation. The account identified itself as “Jeffrey Catalan” and had been used to make calls for President Donald Trump to be overthrown by a military coup and accusations the president had murdered someone in 1983. The account describes its owner as a “Graphic Artist, Artist, photography and writer. Hippie, First Responder, Father and Grandpa” from Tiverton, Rhode Island.
The Jeffrey Catalan account promptly retracted the allegation Wednesday night, claiming he made “a mistake” when he claimed a 20-year-old Judge Kavanuagh sexually assaulted a woman on a boat and that he then severely beat Kavanaugh for it. Grassley’s Saturday letter references this retraction, confirming the identification of the accuser as “Jeffrey Catalan,” although, because of the redaction, it is still not clear if that is the man’s real name.
“Catalan,” referred to as a “Rhode Island constituent,” called Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse’s (D-RI) office on Monday morning. He claimed that in Newport, Rhode Island, in August of 1985, he and a friend had confronted two other men named “Brett and Mark” and gave them a beating that left Brett and Mark with severe injuries. They, according to the call, had gone down to find Brett and Mark by the pier because an unnamed female friend told them she had been sexually assaulted by the pair on a boat after meeting them at a local bar.
Catalan claimed he knew that “Brett,” the man he severely beat 33 years ago, was Judge Kavanaugh after seeing Kavanaugh’s high school yearbook photo on the news jogged his memory.
Whitehouse’s office considered the allegation credible enough to pass it on to the Judiciary Committee as a whole, leading committee staff to question Kavanaugh over the alleged incident later on Monday. Whitehouse himself, as is clear from a letter to the committee released Saturday, also sent the allegation to the FBI and gave the accuser a contact of his in the media to help break the story.
As with the at least four other accusations of sexual misconduct for which the Judiciary Committee has investigated Kavanaugh, the judge flatly denied it occurred. “I was not in Newport, haven’t been on a boat in Newport. Not with Mark Judge on a boat, nor 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,” he told committee investigators.
With Catalan’s retraction, it was clear enough to Grassley that the man had likely lied to Senator Whitehouse. Lying to congressional staff about an official matter they are investigating and deliberately obstructing a congressional investigation are both felonies, even when the intentionally misleading statements are not made under oath.
“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,” Grassley wrote in his letter. “But when individuals provide fabricated allegations to the Committee, diverting Committee resources during time-sensitive investigations, it materially impedes our work. Such acts are not only unfair; they are potentially illegal.”