Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee demanded this week that the FBI hand over additional information related to its 2018 investigation into Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
The Democrats, led by Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Chris Coons of Delaware, raised a series of questions about the FBI’s handling of its sexual misconduct probe into Brett Kavanaugh in response to a letter the bureau sent them in June.
They expressed particular concern that the FBI had received more than 4,500 tips but only shared the ones deemed “relevant” to former President Donald Trump’s White House.
“The admissions in your letter corroborate and explain numerous credible accounts by individuals and firms that they had contacted the FBI with information ‘highly relevant to … allegations’ of sexual misconduct by Justice Kavanaugh, only to be ignored,” seven Judiciary Democrats wrote in a letter addressed to FBI Director Christopher Wray late Wednesday.
“If the FBI was not authorized to or did not follow up on any of the tips that it received from the tip line, it is difficult to understand the point of having a tip line at all,” the letter continued.
The lawmakers asked the FBI to share additional details, including how tips were considered to be “relevant,” how many tips it shared with the Trump White House, whether tips were ever fully investigated and if the bureau still had copies of the tips.
The lawmakers also asked why potential witnesses identified through the tip line were never contacted or interviewed.
In the FBI’s letter, the agency noted that it gave the tips to the Office of the White House Counsel because that was the “requesting entity.”
The bureau also said the Kavanaugh background investigation involved different procedures than the FBI’s criminal probes.
In mid-2018, after Trump nominated then-Judge Brett Kavanaugh to fill a Supreme Court vacancy, several women came forward with allegations he had sexually assaulted or harassed them.
But Judiciary Committee and FBI investigations determined the accusations were unsubstantiated, and the Senate confirmed Kavanaugh in October 2018.
On Wednesday, the seven Democratic senators gave Wray until this August to respond to their questions. In addition to Whitehouse and Coons, Sens. Dick Durbin of Illinois, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii and Cory Booker of New Jersey signed the letter.
The letter’s timing appears awfully convenient, considering the Supreme Court will hear a Mississippi abortion case this fall that could overturn or undermine the court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade opinion. A ruling on the case is expected next summer, and the court will consider whether states can ban abortions before the point of viability defined by Roe.
If Democrats are reviving the allegations against Kavanaugh in an attempt to preserve Roe, it would not be entirely surprising.
A year after Trump’s nominee was confirmed, Debra Katz, an attorney for Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford, admitted that safeguarding abortion was part of her client’s reason for coming forward.
“In the aftermath of these hearings, I believe that Christine’s testimony brought about more good than the harm misogynist Republicans caused by allowing Kavanaugh on the court,” Katz said during a “Feminist Legal Theory Conference” in April 2019.
“He will always have an asterisk next to his name. When he takes a scalpel to Roe v. Wade, we will know who he is, we know his character and we know what motivates him, and that is important; it is important that we know, and that is part of what motivated Christine.”
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