Democrats slammed what they viewed as gaping holes in the latest FBI investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh after the report was handed over to the Senate early Thursday.
“The most notable part of this report is what’s not in it,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said, noting that the FBI didn’t interview Kavanaugh or Christine Blasey Ford, the woman accusing him of sexually assaulting her when they were in high school.
“It looks to be the product of an incomplete investigation that was limited, perhaps by the White House, I don’t know,” she added, accusing the Trump administration of blocking the FBI from doing its job.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) echoed her disappointment in the scope of the investigation and lamented the decision to keep the report private.
“Why shouldn’t America see all the facts?” he asked.
The White House produced just one copy of the FBI’s findings, and Republicans and Democrats had to take turns looking at it in a secure room at the Capitol.
“The fact that there’s only one document in there for 100 senators is another example of constraining the ability of all senators and the American public to see the whole truth and nothing but,” Schumer said.
White House officials defended the probe as thorough, despite reportedly ordering restrictions on its scope and having agents interview a limited number of people. A number of former classmates and acquaintances who knew Kavanaugh at the time of the allegations have said that they contacted the FBI directly, but officials never followed up with them.
The White House sent out a statement around 2:30 a.m. Eastern time, saying it had sent the FBI’s report to the Senate, calling the process the “most comprehensive review of a Supreme Court nominee in history.”
“The White House has received the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s supplemental background investigation into Judge Kavanaugh, and it is being transmitted to the Senate,” deputy press secretary Raj Shah wrote on Twitter. “With this additional information, the White House is fully confident the Senate will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.”
Asked about Republicans affirming that the FBI report provides no new evidence corroborating Kavanaugh’s accusers, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said firmly: “I do not agree with that statement.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) scheduled a vote to move forward with Kavanaugh’s nomination Wednesday, before any senators had seen the report.
McConnell filed for cloture late Wednesday, a procedural step that, if passed by the Senate on Friday, will allow the full chamber to vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination the following day.
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) lambasted the idea that there was enough time for all 100 senators to review the FBI report before a cloture vote.
“They’re letting senators come in one at a time and trying to force a vote by Saturday,” said Kaine, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 running mate. “There’s not 100 hours between now and Saturday.”
“There will be plenty of time for members to review and be briefed on the supplemental material before a Friday cloture vote,” McConnell said late Wednesday after filing for cloture.
Kavanaugh has been accused by three women of sexual misconduct during his years in high school and college, and denied the allegations before the Senate Judiciary Committee in a fiery hearing last week. Ford also shared her own emotional testimony, which led to the FBI’s probe.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) was the first lawmaker to note the timing of McConnell’s cloture filing in a message on Twitter, saying that the clock is now running on Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Senate rules mandate a brisk time frame once the chamber votes on cloture, and if it passes, senators will have just 30 hours to debate the nomination before it moves on to a final vote.
Five senators are still undecided on Kavanaugh’s nomination, and it’s unclear if a vote would pass due to Republicans’ slim 51-49 majority. GOP Sens. Jeff Flake (Ariz.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine) have all expressed misgivings about the nomination, and two Democrats up for re-election in red states, Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), have not yet said how they plan to vote.
McConnell has plowed forward regardless, saying he would “not be intimidated” in his effort to see Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court.
“There is no chance in the world that they’re going to scare us out of doing our duty,” the majority leader said during a floor speech Wednesday.
Marina Fang and Antonia Blumberg contributed reporting.