Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee accused their Republican colleagues of mishandling confidential information contained in Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s past FBI background checks on Wednesday and alluded that the files may contain evidence of inappropriate sexual behavior or alcohol abuse.
In a letter addressed to committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), eight of the panel’s 10 Democratic members said the majority’s official Twitter account was incorrect when it sent out a message saying: “Nowhere in any of these six FBI reports ... was there ever a whiff of ANY issue ― at all ― related in any way to inappropriate sexual behavior or alcohol abuse.”
The eight lawmakers indicated that statement was false and called on Grassley to issue an immediate correction.
“While we are limited in what we can say about this background investigation in a public setting, we are compelled to state for the record that there is information in the second post that is not accurate,” the Democrats wrote. “It is troubling that the Committee Majority has characterized the information from Judge Kavanaugh’s confidential background investigation on Twitter, as that information is confidential and not subject to public release.”
Sens. Chris Coons (Del.) and Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) did not join their colleagues to sign the document, although it’s unclear why.
Grassley’s office rejected the assertion, calling the letter “baseless innuendo” on Twitter later on Wednesday and saying it reflected “more false smears from Senate Democrats.”
“Nothing in the tweet is inaccurate or misleading,” officials wrote on the Senate Judiciary account. “This committee stands by its statement, which is completely truthful.”
The back-and-forth comes the same week the FBI is conducting a new investigation into several allegations of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh from the early 1980s, when he was in high school and college. Three women have accused the judge of sexual impropriety, including Christine Blasey Ford, who gave testimony about her allegation of sexual assault before the judiciary committee last week.
Several of Kavanaugh’s old acquaintances have gone public in recent weeks about their interactions with the judge, and many have spoken about his involvement in a clique known for heavy drinking.
Kavanaugh has denied all the allegations and moved to paint himself as a student focused on academics and athletics who occasionally drank alcohol but never “to the point of blacking out.”
The FBI is expected to complete that probe this week, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said it will not be made public and that the document will be viewable only by the chamber’s lawmakers. McConnell has expressed his strong desire to hold a vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination in the coming days once the report is complete.
President Donald Trump has grown increasingly antagonistic this week as the FBI inquiry moves forward. He broke his relative silence on the allegations of sexual misconduct during a rally in Mississippi on Tuesday, mocking Ford and the broader Me Too movement.
Several Republican lawmakers, seen as crucial undecided votes on the Kavanaugh nomination, on Wednesday lambasted the president’s behavior at the rally.
“There’s no time and no place for remarks like that,” Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said during an appearance on the “Today” show. “To discuss something this sensitive at a political rally is just not right. It’s just not right. I wish he hadn’t done it... it’s kind of appalling.”