Here’s a thought experiment.

If you were a federal prosecutor, and given the choice, would you prioritize prosecuting:

(a) a clearly disturbed woman with a long history of flimflam, but who in herself has no important societal role but for her outlandish and possibly perjurious sworn statements against a Supreme Court nominee, or

(b) the high-profile lawyer who helped her and a second woman submit possibly perjurious sworn statements, who is a fixture on cable TV, and who has presidential ambitions.

If you say, ‘get the lawyer’ — come on down.

But if you wanted go after the lawyer, what would you need to prove criminal culpability? After all, if you can’t prove the lawyer knew of the falsity of the sworn statements, and took no steps to suborn the perjury, you would need more for a prosecution. Whether it’s a perjury or conspiracy prosecution, what you would need, barring some documentary smoking gun, is for the witness accused of perjury to flip on the lawyer.

“He made me do it” might be enough. It would be in the jury’s hands.

Fast forward to the real world.

Julie Swetnick submitted a sworn statement, through Michael Avenatti, that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh participated in arranging gang rape parties in high school.

Swetnick’s story, dropped just before Kavanaugh and accuser Christine Blasey Ford were to testify, fell apart during Swetnick’s interview with NBC News, Julie Swetnick’s rape train claims against Kavanaugh crash and burn in NBC Interview:

Julie Swetnick, Michael Avenatti’s client, has the most incredible of all the accusations against Brett Kavanaugh — that he participated in organizing and running rape train parties in which girls were given spiked drinks then gang raped.

Her original declaration is here.

Both Kavanaugh and Mark Judge, who Swetnick also implicated, denied the accusations:

Previous attempts to corroborate any part of her story proved fruitless. Yet Avenatti has been taunting Senate Republicans that her story would be proven.

NBC News interviewed Swetnick, and her story collapses to such a degree that NBC cautioned viewers that her story was not corroborated and contradicted, in important details, her sworn affidavit submitted by Avenatti.

Swetnick and Avenatti recently were referred by the Chuck Grassley, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to the DOJ and FBI for criminal investigation with regard to sworn statements submitted by Swetnick. The referral is not limited to perjury, but to any possible crime the evidence might show.

We covered the story previously, Senate Judiciary refers Julie Swetnick and Michael Avenatti for criminal investigation. From the referral announcement:

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley today referred Julie Swetnick and her attorney Michael Avenatti to the Justice Department for criminal investigation relating to a potential conspiracy to provide materially false statements to Congress and obstruct a congressional committee investigation, three separate crimes, in the course of considering Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court of the United States.

While the Committee was in the middle of its extensive investigation of the late-breaking sexual-assault allegations made by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford against Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Avenatti publicized his client’s allegations of drug- and alcohol-fueled gang rapes in the 1980s. The obvious, subsequent contradictions along with the suspicious timing of the allegations necessitate a criminal investigation by the Justice Department….

The referral methodically details the issues with Swetnick’s allegations as relayed by Avenatti, the immediate diversion of committee resources to investigate those allegations, the subsequent contradictions by both Swetnick and Avenatti, the lack of substantiating or corroborating evidence, and the overarching and serious credibility problems pervading the presentation of these allegations.

There was a second criminal referral, this time just of Avenatti. The second referral concern a sworn statement from a second woman purporting to back up Swetnick’s claims, and submitted by Avenatti. NBC News just recently disclosed, for the first time, that it knew no later than October 3, 2018, three days before that Senate floor vote, that the second sworn statement had been disavowed by the woman making it.

The second referral read, in part:

Yesterday, I wrote to you referring Mr. Michael Avenatti and Ms. Julie Swetnick for investigation of potential violations of 18 U.S.C. §§ 371, 1001, and 1505, for materially false statements they made to the Senate Judiciary Committee during the course of the Committee’s investigation into allegations against Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh. I write today because of important additional information regarding Mr. Avenatti that has since come to the Committee’s attention. In light of this new information, I am now referring Mr. Avenatti for investigation of additional potential violations of those same laws, stemming from a second declaration he submitted to the Committee that also appears to contain materially false statements. As explained below, according to NBC News, the purported declarant of that sworn statement has disavowed its key allegations and claimed that Mr. Avenatti “twisted [her] words.”

We covered this development, and NBC News’ complicity in concealing important information, in NBC News turns on Michael Avenatti over Julie Swetnick, but it concealed problem.

So let’s get back to our thought experiment, in the Swetnick/Avenatti scenario.

It’s not like Avenatti doesn’t understand the pressures the Feds can put on a witness to flip on a lawyer. Avenatti brags that he was the first to predict that Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former lawyer, would flip on Trump:

Having seen Julie Swetnick in action on TV, is there a doubt in your mind that if offered the right deal, she would turn on Avenatti in a heartbeat?

How would Avenatti defend himself? Would he call his former client a liar about her claim to have lied in her sworn statement? The same client he repeatedly said was not a liar.

I don’t know what the feds will do. Or how much they care. But if they did flip Swetnick against Avenatti, it would be a fitting closing act in this drama.

There’s a word for this, that Avenatti loves to use: #Basta.