Senate Judiciary Chairman: FBI Found 'No Hint of Misconduct' by Kavanaugh
Senator Susan Collins confirms FBI investigation appears 'very thorough'
As senators took turns behind closed doors on Thursday examining the report on the FBI's investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct against President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee has confirmed that the probe found "no hint of misconduct."
Following Chairman Chuck Grassley comments, key Republican, Senator Susan Collins, declared after reviewing the report that it appears to be a "very thorough investigation."
Top Democrats, on the other hand, called it "incomplete."
Judiciary Committee Democrat Dianne Feinstein emerged from briefings on the FBI investigation describing the probe as very limited and incomplete.
"The most notable part of this report is what's not in it," said Feinstein.
According to Time, Feinstein also suggested the White House may have restricted the FBI’s ability to thoroughly investigate.
And Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who was briefed on the report, said he disagreed with Grassley’s view that the investigation “found no hint of misconduct” and added that Democrats had “many fears” going into the process and now “those fears have been realized.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee received the report from the White House at 2:30 a.m. Thursday, Grassley said in a statement.
The report, which is only available in hard copy, is being held in the Sensitive Compartment Information Facility in the Capitol.
Only Senators and ten staff members who have the requisite security clearances can view it.
Grassley and his staff were slated to begin viewing the report at 8 a.m. ET Thursday.
Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the committee, entered the room a little bit before 9 a.m.
Here’s what Grassley said about the report:
“I’ve now received a committee staff briefing on the FBI’s supplement to Judge Kavanaugh’s background investigation file.
"There’s nothing in it that we didn’t already know.
"These uncorroborated accusations have been unequivocally and repeatedly rejected by Judge Kavanaugh, and neither the Judiciary Committee nor the FBI could locate any third parties who can attest to any of the allegations.
"There’s also no contemporaneous evidence.
"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.”
After days of speculation and partisan infighting, the White House delivered the report to the Senate just hours after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell officially kicked off the procedural process for Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote on the Senate floor.
“With this additional information, the White House is fully confident the Senate will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court,” White House spokesman Raj Shah said in a statement.
Other Senators, including Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake and Maine Sen. Susan Collins, two of the crucial swing votes in the confirmation battle, began to receive briefings on the report Thursday morning.
Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, the third undecided Republican Senator, said she would read the report later in the day.
“I didn’t go to the briefing. I am going to read it myself. Going in with my own eyes to it and do what I asked the FBI to do,” Murkowski said Thursday.
“I would imagine that if I need more time here I can get another block of time.”
But the process of the supplemental background check, like Kavanaugh’s confirmation process itself, has been fraught with partisan tension.
Republicans were coerced into a background check last week, when Flake, who sits on the judiciary committee, said his vote to move Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Senate floor was conditional on a new FBI investigation.
Flake was backed by Collins and Murkowski, and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat.
McConnell, clearly lacking the necessary votes to confirm Kavanaugh, was forced to concede to their demands.
Kavanaugh’s confirmation, which had appeared to be almost a sure thing, was thrust into doubt when Christine Blasey Ford, a California psychology professor, came forward publicly and alleged that Kavanaugh had assaulted her when they were teenagers over three decades ago.
Two other women, Deborah Ramirez, and Julie Swetnick have since come forward with their own allegations.
Ramirez alleged that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her when they were at Yale University, and Swetnick has claimed she was "gang-raped" at a party Kavanaugh attended when they were in high school, and she witnessed him at other parties spiking alcohol in an attempt to get women inebriated.
Kavanaugh has repeatedly denied all the allegations.
Both Ford and Kavanaugh testified before the Senate judiciary committee last week.
Shah said Thursday that the investigation consisted of ten witness interviews.
These include Mark Judge, who Ford alleges was the only other witness in the room when Kavanaugh assaulted her, and Ramirez.
The investigation did not encompass Swetnick’s flimsy allegations, according to lawmakers and her attorney Michael Avenatti.
#JulieSwetnick's allegations of sexual misconduct against #JudgeBrettKavanaugh have now become so flimsy, that you'd have to be blinded by anti-Trump rage not to see through it.— Neon Nettle (@NeonNettle) October 4, 2018
READ MORE: https://t.co/LN5pYkDwaD#SupremeCourt
But both Ford and Ramirez’s legal teams expressed dissatisfaction with the scope of the investigation.
In a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray, Ramirez’s attorneys wrote they were “deeply disappointed” by the investigation.
“We can only conclude that the FBI – or those controlling the investigation – did not want to learn the truth behind Ramirez’s allegation,” they wrote.
Despite these claims, Grassley said he believed the FBI had done its job properly.
“I trust that the career agents of the FBI have done their work independent of political or partisan considerations. That’s exactly what senators from both sides asked for. Now it’s up to senators to fulfill their constitutional duty and make a judgment,” Grassley said.
He added that a “presumption of innocence” should prevail and called on other Senators to move past the investigation.
“Fundamentally, we senators ought to wipe away the muck from all the mudslinging and politics and look at this nomination with clear eyes,” Grassley said.
“It’s time to vote. I’ll be voting to confirm Judge Kavanaugh.”
Some other Republicans who were briefed on the report on Thursday seemed to agree with Grassley that the FBI report did not change their minds.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, who sits on the judiciary committee, said he was “more confident than ever” that Kavanaugh would be confirmed following the FBI report.
“I’ve learned nothing I didn’t already know [about the allegations]” he told reporters.
Graham also pushed back on the notion that the White House has constrained the FBI, arguing that they were given the necessary latitude, although he conceded it probably should have been done earlier.
Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee echoed these comments on Thursday.
“The supplemental background investigation found absolutely zero corroboration of the allegations that have been made. I plan to vote for Judge Kavanaugh and believe he will be confirmed very soon,” Corker tweeted.
The supplemental background investigation found absolutely zero corroboration of the allegations that have been made. I plan to vote for Judge Kavanaugh and believe he will be confirmed very soon.— Senator Bob Corker (@SenBobCorker) October 4, 2018
Some Democrats, while careful not to provide specific information, implied that their Republican colleagues were purposely trying to comport the latest FBI report to fit with their need to see Kavanaugh confirmed.
“You can’t find what you don’t look for,” said Coons, who is good friends with Flake and was instrumental in helping strike a deal for a weeklong FBI investigation.
Other Democratic Senators agreed they did not see new information in the report but said that was due to the limits on the investigation rather than a lack of evidence.
“This so-called investigation leaves a lot more questions than answers,” California Sen. Kamala Harris, who sits on the judiciary committee, said Thursday.
When asked if she saw anything new in the report, she immediately replied “Nope.”