A group of US Democratic senators on Thursday said that newly released materials show the FBI failed to fully investigate sexual misconduct allegations against the US supreme court Justice Brett Kavanaugh when he was nominated to the court in 2018.
The senators, including Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Chris Coons of Delaware, said a letter they received from the FBI director, Chris Wray, last month shows the FBI gathered more than 4,500 tips relating to Kavanaugh without any apparent further action by investigators.
“The admissions in your letter corroborate and explain numerous credible accounts by individuals and firms that they had contacted the FBI with information ‘highly relevant to … allegations’ of sexual misconduct by Justice Kavanaugh, only to be ignored.
“If the FBI was not authorized to or did not follow up on any of the tips that it received from the tip line, it is difficult to understand the point of having a tip line at all,” the Democratic lawmakers said in a letter to Wray sent on Wednesday night, which they released to the public on Thursday.
Christine Blasey Ford alleged that Kavanaugh attempted to rape her in the early 80s, when they were teenagers at a house party in Maryland, on the outskirts of Washington DC, and he faced other allegations of misconduct following Ford’s harrowing description of an alleged assault when she and Kavanaugh were in high school.
Kavanaugh denied the claims.
His nomination became a huge political fight in Washington and Ford’s devastating and calm testimony in September 2018 mesmerized millions watching on television and was hailed by women’s rights groups as a breakthrough moment for talking about sexual assault.
In angry testimony of his own on Capitol Hill, Kavanaugh fiercely defended himself and blasted what he called a leftwing political hit job on him.
The FBI was called to investigate the allegations during the Senate confirmation process but was later accused of conducting an incomplete background check, not following up on tips and ignoring potential witnesses.
Whitehouse put out a statement in which he said he and Coons wrote a letter to Wray along with co-signers and fellow Democratic senators Dick Durbin of Illinois, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.
He said he and Coons initially raised what he called “the lackluster supplemental background investigation” in a Senate judiciary committee hearing with Wray in July 2019.
He pointed out that there was no clear process to the investigation.
On 1 August 2019, Coons and Whitehouse wrote to Wray asking for a complete picture of how the FBI handled the supplemental background investigation of Kavanaugh, Whitehouse’s statement continued on Thursday.
Whitehouse said they asked “why the FBI failed to contact witnesses whose names were provided to the FBI as possessing ‘highly relevant’ information; how involved the Trump White House was in narrowing the scope of the investigation; whether the FBI had used a tip line in previous background investigations to manage incoming allegations and information regarding a nominee; and more.”
Whitehouse had in March of this year asked the attorney general, Merrick Garland, to help facilitate “proper oversight” by the Senate into questions about how thoroughly the FBI investigated Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing and said he was seeking answers about “how, why, and at whose behest” the FBI conducted a “fake” investigation.
Then-president Donald Trump selected Kavanaugh as his nominee for the supreme court and refused to turn to an alternative choice when Kavanaugh became engulfed in the scandal of Blasey Ford’s allegations.
One of the new books out on Trump this summer, Landslide by Michael Wolff, claims that Trump later said Kavanaugh was “totally disgraced” by the sexual assault allegations levelled against him during the heated confirmation hearings in 2018 and would have been rejected by the Senate had Trump not defended him.
Wolff writes that Trump said of the judge: “I saved his life. He wouldn’t even be in a law firm. Who would have had him? Nobody. Totally disgraced. Only I saved him.”