GOP, Dems battle over FBI’s secret Kavanaugh report

Republicans say FBI found ‘no hint of misconduct,’ Demos accuse White House of restricting probe

  • Oct. 4, 2018 12:52 p.m.

A high-stakes partisan row quickly broke out Thursday over a confidential FBI report about allegations that Brett Kavanaugh sexually abused women three decades ago, with Republicans claiming investigators found “no hint of misconduct” and Democrats accusing the White House of slapping crippling constraints on the probe.

The verbal battling commenced as the conservative jurist’s prospects for winning Senate confirmation to the Supreme Court remained at the mercy of five wavering senators, with an initial, critical vote looming Friday. It followed the FBI’s early-morning release of its investigation, which President Donald Trump reluctantly ordered under pressure from a handful of wavering GOP senators.

“There’s nothing in it that we didn’t already know,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said in a written statement. He said he based his view on a briefing from committee aides and added, “This investigation found no hint of misconduct.”

Top Democrats fired back after getting their own briefing.

The Judiciary panel’s top Democrat, Dianne Feinstein of California, said it appeared that the White House had “blocked the FBI from doing its job.” She said that while Democrats had agreed to limit the probe’s scope, “we did not agree that the White House should tie the FBI’s hands.”

READ MORE: Senate gets confidential FBI files on Kavanaugh allegations

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has already started a process that will produce a crucial test vote in his polarized chamber Friday on Kavanaugh’s fate. Should Republicans get the majority of votes they need — and Vice-President Mike Pence is available to cast the tie-breaker, if necessary — that would set up a decisive roll call on his confirmation, likely over the weekend.

Feinstein complained Thursday that agents had not interviewed Kavanaugh or Christine Blasey Ford, who has testified that he sexually attacked her in a locked bedroom during a high school gathering in 1982. Feinstein also said attorneys for Deborah Ramirez, who’s claimed Kavanaugh exposed himself to her when both were Yale freshmen, had no indication the FBI had reached out to people she’d offered for corroboration.

Grassley said the FBI could not “locate any third parties who can attest to any of the allegations,” and he said there is “no contemporaneous evidence.” He provided no specifics.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Democrats’ fears that the “very limited process” laid out for the investigation would restrain the FBI “have been realized.”

He also said, “I disagree with Sen. Grassley’s statement that there was no hint of misconduct.” Neither side provided any detail about what the report said, constrained by years-old arrangements that require the results of FBI background checks to remain confidential.

READ MORE: Christine Blasey Ford steps into spotlight; defiant Kavanaugh fights back

Earlier, White House spokesman Raj Shah rebuffed Democrats’ complaints, saying, “What critics want is a never-ending fishing expedition into high school drinking.” He said the FBI reached out to 10 people and interviewed nine, including “several individuals at the request of the Senate, and had a series of follow-up interviews … following certain leads.”

While the FBI interviews were to focus on sexual assault allegations, Democrats have also questioned Kavanaugh’s drinking habits during high school and college and dishonest comments they say he has made about his background. Kavanaugh has said stories of his bad behaviour while drinking are exaggerated.

Three women have accused him of sexual misconduct in separate incidents in the 1980s. Kavanaugh, 53, now a judge on the powerful District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals, has denied the claims.

The White House received the FBI report around 3 a.m. Thursday.

Trump weighed in hours later in a tweet in which he denounced what he called “the harsh and unfair treatment” of Kavanaugh. “This great life cannot be ruined by mean” and “despicable Democrats and totally uncorroborated allegations!”

Ford, now a California psychology professor, has testified that when the drunken Kavanaugh attacked her, she believed he was trying to rape her.

The FBI interviewed several people, including three who Ford has said attended a 1982 high school gathering in suburban Maryland where she says Kavanaugh’s attack occurred, plus another Kavanaugh friend. The agency has also spoken to a second woman, Deborah Ramirez, who has claimed Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a Yale party when both were freshmen.

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Downtown Kelowna Library sponsors Sugarplum Ball

The Sugarplumball is part of the OUT in the Valley festival in November

Joe Rich firefighters raise thousands of dollars for food bank

Joe Rich firefighters out in full force last Sunday to raise money for 15th annual community food drive

Lake Country burglars on the loose after attempted robbery

Two masked individuals tried to empty the Turtle Bay Pub’s ATM on Monday morning

Canadian car crash victims to be honoured at Kelowna event

Not-for-profit “One Crash is Too Many” will be hosting event at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday at Orchard Parking Mall lot

Petition launched against location of new West Kelowna firehall

A Lakeview Heights resident has started an online petition

RCMP cut free activists chained to Kelowna bank, placed under arrest

The group is protesting Interior Savings Credit Union’s support of Kelowna Ribfest

Two-vehicle Okanagan crash ‘looks worse than it is’

Nobody injured in Vernon accident that happened just before 5 p.m. in middle of city

Kamloops woman sues Armstrong IPE for Slingshot mishap

Woman claims ride gone wrong caused injury, loss of wages and other damages

UPDATED: Vancouver Island’s Joe gets suspended sentence in Teddy the dog cruelty case

Melissa Tooshley expected in court on Thursday in same case

Alleged drunk driver survives crash into Kettle River

The crash happened Saturday near Grand Forks

Woman ‘horrified’ after being told to trek 200 kilometres home from Kamloops hospital

‘I can’t get from Kamloops back to 100 Mile House injured, confused… no shoes, no clothes whatsoever’

Canadian universities encourage exchange students in Hong Kong to head home

UBC said 11 of its 32 students completing programs in Hong Kong have already left

Inner Peace Movement comes to Kelowna

Philip Ponchet will give two talks on Nov. 26

Most Read