Senators are reviewing an FBI report into sexual misconduct allegations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh. First reports from Senators that have looked at it say the FBI has found zero evidence that would corroborate any claims made by accuser Christine Ford or Deborah Ramirez. While the report does not make recommendations as to what the Senate should do, it is a powerful statement that lays out considerable doubt on both accusations against Kavanaugh.
It is not clear what the report specifically contains or if the information that may prove Kavanaugh’s innocence will be released.
The judge has vehemently denied all allegations against him and provided substantial evidence that supports his claims. To date no witnesses have corroborated the accuser’s allegations while her comments under oath during last week’s hearings have come under scrutiny. Some are even calling Christine Ford’s comments as perjury.
Republicans and Democrats are divided over the nomination. A confirmation vote is expected to be held on Saturday. His appointment would tilt the court in favor of conservatives.
Republicans have accused Democrats of seeking to delay the confirmation of Kavanaugh in the hope that they will make gains in the mid-term elections in November and stop his appointment altogether. Democrats have also said they would proceed with impeachment of Kavanaugh from the nation’s second highest court where he currently sits.
What are the allegations?
Last week Christine Blasey Ford testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee that Kavanaugh, 53, and another man had assaulted her when they were teenagers in the early 1980s.
Another woman, Deborah Ramirez, has accused Kavanaugh of exposing himself to her during a drinking game when they were students at Yale University in the 1980s but evidence has surfaced putting Kavanaugh in another state during that time-frame.
None of the individuals whom both accusers named as witnesses have corroborated the allegations.
Rachel Mitchell, the respected sex crimes prosecutor who questioned Ford and Kavanaugh during the hearings, released a report on Sunday that detailed how Ford’s claims are so weak that even seasoned sex crime prosecutors would not advance it in a court of law. Under review, Ford’s answer’s to the questioning have revealed her less than honest answers to many questions including that she had a fear of flying yet flew regularly for pleasure and had never mentioned her fear to others.
In addition, her ex-boyfriend has shared how he witnessed Ford coach her best friend in how to pass a lie detector test for an FBI job. This contradicts Ford’s testimony under oath that she had never helped anyone prepare for such a test. Ford, a psychologist, would have substantial knowledge about lying and the behavior of those who lie and how to detect it.
After Ford’s testimony, the Senate panel approved Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination but asked for the FBI to conduct further inquiry before the full Senate voted on his appointment.
Ford said she was “100%” sure Brett Kavanaugh assaulted her. The FBI did not examine allegations made by a third woman, Julie Swetnick, that Kavanaugh was involved in a gang rape. Swetnick is being represented by porn lawyer Michael Avenatti. Swetnick walked back her statements in an NBC news interview that left most, even many Democrats, discounting her as a credible accuser.
What’s in the report?
The report contains summaries of interviews that the FBI has conducted and which White House attorneys have forwarded to the Senate. It is not meant to have the form of a conclusion or recommendation.
Senators have been told not to reveal what the report says, but it remains to be seen whether that secrecy will hold.
The report is in paper format only and no copies will be made. It will be held in a secure room in the basement of the Capitol building, known as a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or “Skif”, AP news agency reported.
Committee chairman Chuck Grassley reviewed the report at 08:00 local time and ranking Democrat Dianne Feinstein saw it at 09:00. After that, the Republican committee members saw it at 10:00 and the Democrats at 11:00.
In a statement after reading the report Chairman Grassley said: “There’s nothing in it that we didn’t already know”.
“Neither the Judiciary Committee nor the FBI could locate any third parties who can attest to any of the allegations,” he said, adding that the investigation “found no hint of misconduct.”
Why didn’t the FBI speak to Ford or Kavanaugh?
The order for the FBI investigation did not include interviewing Ford or Kavanaugh because of the extensive testimony they both gave under oath before the committee.
Democrats had wanted Kavanaugh to be questioned again about drinking but that topic had been covered under six previous background investigations of Kavanaugh and no evidence had ever been found that his past drinking as a teenager was a problem.
Will Kavanaugh be confirmed?
Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation depends on Republican senators voting strictly along party lines.
The party has only a 51-49 Senate majority. That means that if all Democrats vote against confirming Judge Kavanaugh, Republicans can only afford one defection – since in a tie, Vice-President Mike Pence would get the casting vote.
Three Republican senators – Jeff Flake, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski – are being closely watched, as they have not yet said how they will vote.
After reviewing the information two of those Senators reacted.
Collins, a Maine Republican said the FBI probe “appears to be a very thorough investigation.”
She said she plans to return later to read the interviews.
Sen. Jeff Flake said he is still reviewing the information, “but we’ve seen no additional information yet. No additional corroborating information.”
Two Democrats, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, are also yet to declare their intentions, although there are reports that Heitkamp has stated she will vote no. Both are in states that a Trump won with overwhelming margins and are at risk of losing their Senate seats.
A coalition of ultra liberal churches with has urged Kavanaugh to withdraw his nomination.
The National Council of Churches, which has deep ties to the United Nations and funding from ultra liberal activist sources, said in a statement that he had shown “extreme partisan bias” during his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, and lacked the temperament to be a Supreme Court judge.
A vote is scheduled for Saturday.
Contrary to some media reports, polls indicate that Republican voters have rallied around Kavanaugh and that Democrats have lost 12 points of their generic polling advantage going into the mid-term elections. Even Kavanaugh’s support among women remains high.