The FBI report on allegations that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh abused women in high school and college is in. Democrats’ verdict: It’s not enough.
“The most notable part of this report is what’s not in it,” California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein told reporters Thursday morning, after viewing the confidential report in a secured room in the Capitol. The White House, which controlled the scope of the investigation, “blocked the FBI from doing its job,” she added, resulting in an “incomplete investigation.”
“Democrats agreed that the investigation scope should be limited,” Feinstein went on. “We did not agree that the White House should tie the FBI’s hands.”
No Ford or Kavanaugh interviews
Most crucially, Feinstein said, FBI investigators interviewed neither Kavanaugh nor California professor Christine Blasey Ford, who testified last week about how Kavanaugh allegedly pinned her to a bed, groped her, and covered her mouth at a high school gathering in the 1980s. White House officials purportedly felt that their Senate testimony made further interviews unnecessary, a point Feinstein disagreed with on Thursday — not only do senators lack FBI agents’ expertise at questioning, she said, but they were only able to ask questions in five-minute increments, and the Republicans had a surrogate ask most of their questions anyway.
Ford’s lawyers also wanted the FBI to interview Ford. “An FBI supplemental background investigation that did not include an interview of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford — now the witnesses who corroborate her testimony — cannot be called an investigation,” they wrote in a statement Wednesday. “We are profoundly disappointed that after the tremendous sacrifice she made in coming forward, those directing the FBI investigation were not interested in seeking the truth.”
No witnesses from alleged Yale assault
While the FBI did interview Deborah Ramirez, who said Kavanaugh once exposed himself and thrust his penis into her face during a party at Yale, Ramirez told the New Yorker that “people who were key to corroborating my story have not been contacted.”
Ramirez’s team gave the FBI more than 20 names of people who could back up Ramirez’s allegations, the Washington Post reported, but as of Wednesday, Ramirez had no evidence that any had been contacted.
No Swetnick interview
The FBI has also not interviewed Julie Swetnick, who said she was gang-raped at a high school party that Kavanaugh attended, Swetnick’s lawyer Michael Avenatti said Wednesday. On Thursday, Avenatti accused Republicans of making sure that “numerous key witnesses, including six very damaging witnesses I am aware of, were never even interviewed.”
Unclear if the FBI interviewed classmates who witnessed Kavanaugh's drinking
Several Yale classmates of Kavanaugh’s have publicly challenged his claims that he never had memory lapses due to drinking, including Liz Swisher, Chad Ludington, and Kavanaugh’s freshman-year roommate James Roche. As of Wednesday, none had been contacted by the FBI, CNN reported. According to the Washington Post, the White House directed the FBI away from investigating Kavanaugh’s youthful drinking or uncovering whether he lied about its extent.
At least two high school classmates of Kavanaugh’s also submitted sworn statements to the FBI, the New Yorker reported, which included information about drinking and the behavior of boys at Kavanaugh’s high school Georgetown Prep.
It’s not necessarily unusual for FBI investigators to not get back to people who believe they have information. "As a general matter, if the FBI is conducting an investigation, they decide who they need to talk to,” Carrie Cordero, former counsel to the U.S. assistant attorney general for national security, told CNN.
The White House directed the FBI to investigate the claims against Kavanaugh last Friday, after Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake indicated that he would not vote to confirm Kavanaugh without an investigation. With a razor-thin majority of 51-49, Republicans need every vote they can get.
"No hint of misconduct"
Now, Republicans are confident that Kavanaugh’s nomination will move forward. “This investigation found no hint of misconduct and the same is true of the six prior FBI background investigations conducted during Judge Kavanaugh’s 25 years of public service,” said Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, in a statement. He added, "It’s time to vote. I’ll be voting to confirm Judge Kavanaugh."
On Thursday, Senate Minority Leader and New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer said that he disagreed with Grassley’s claim that there was no hint of misconduct. “We are reiterating our call — given how limited these documents were and how limited the scope of this investigation — we are reiterating our call that the documents, with proper redaction, be made public,” Schumer said. “Why shouldn’t all of America see the facts?”
Schumer did not elaborate further after questions from reporters.
Kentucky Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority leader, has scheduled Kavanaugh’s confirmation procedural vote on Friday. The final vote could take place as early as Saturday.
Cover: Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, right, speaks while Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, listens during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018. The White House expressed confidence that nothing in a supplemental FBI investigation prompted by sexual misconduct allegations against Brett Kavanaugh would derail the Supreme Court nominee, as Senate Republicans press ahead with plans for a Friday test vote. (Photo: Aaron P. Bernstein/Bloomberg via Getty Images)