The new Kavanaugh allegation is important because of what it says about the FBI

A bunch of fence-sitting senators determined in fall 2018 to attend to determine whether or not or to not assist Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court docket till after the FBI performed an investigation into allegations of great sexual misconduct by a number of ladies. Two senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Jeff Flake of Arizona, had been satisfied by the ultimate report and despatched him to the bench.

“It seems to be a really thorough investigation,” Collins mentioned on the time.

Over the weekend, the New York Instances printed a e-book excerpt by reporters Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly that raises questions on simply how thorough the investigation actually was.


Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) talks to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) as Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) appears to be like on throughout a information convention on February 15, 2018.
Alex Wong/Getty Pictures

In accordance with the report, a classmate approached a US senator throughout the investigation to say he noticed Kavanaugh expose himself to a feminine classmate at a celebration, thrusting his penis in her face. The allegation intently resembled a separate alleged incident described by one other former classmate, Deborah Ramirez. The senator, Chris Coons of Delaware, despatched a letter to the FBI urging it to comply with up with the classmate, Max Stier. However the FBI didn’t comply with up with Stier.

Associates of the lady concerned within the alleged incident have advised the Instances she doesn’t have any reminiscence of it. However the Stier case remains to be vital. Maybe the FBI wouldn’t have discovered his story to be credible. Maybe they might have. We simply don’t know. And that’s the issue with the FBI’s report. It wasn’t thorough.

The White Home and Senate Republicans set slim parameters on the investigation, giving the FBI one week to interview two of Kavanaugh’s pals, a pal of Blasey Ford (who says she was not conscious of the alleged assault), and Ramirez.

Brokers didn’t interview the 20 individuals who wished to share corroborating proof about Ramirez’s allegation. They didn’t interview any former classmates who wished to dispute Kavanaugh’s testimony in entrance of the Senate about his ingesting habits. They didn’t interview Christine Blasey Ford. They didn’t interview her corroborating witnesses. And they didn’t interview Brett Kavanaugh.

On the finish of the week, the FBI despatched a report back to Trump that mentioned they discovered no new corroborating proof in opposition to Kavanaugh. Stier’s letter reminds us that they didn’t look notably laborious for it — and it gave Senate wobblers cowl to assist Kavanaugh.

The FBI investigation was slim by design

On his method to vote in favor of Kavanaugh in September 2018, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) had a change of coronary heart when a lady confronted him in a Senate elevator and made a tearful plea for him to rethink. Footage reveals Flake hanging his head.

Flake referred to as on Senate leaders to pause the vote and the FBI was given every week to do a supplemental evaluation of Kavanaugh. (The FBI had already run a normal background verify, which he cleared.)

Senate Republicans and the White Home mentioned the FBI would have one week, that the investigation could be “restricted in scope,” and it could probe “present credible allegations” in opposition to Kavanaugh. At first it was not clear what outlined present allegations. And President Donald Trump mentioned the FBI would have “free rein.” However it shortly grew to become clear that the investigation could be very restricted.

The New Yorker reported that many potential witnesses had been pissed off they may not get a reply from investigators. Coons himself mentioned in his letter to the FBI he had directed quite a few individuals to the bureau tip line and urged them to talk with Stier. “I want to particularly confer with you for acceptable comply with up,” Coons wrote. They didn’t.

In the meantime, within the Senate, Majority Chief Mitch McConnell likened Democratic requires an inquiry to “McCarthyism” and promised a vote, no matter what the FBI report confirmed. “The time for infinite delay and obstruction has come to a detailed,” he mentioned. “We’ll be voting this week.”

Fence-sitters bought the duvet they wanted

Republicans wanted to win over no less than two swing votes to get Kavanaugh onto the court docket: Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Jeff Flake, and Susan Collins.

Collins and Flake pointed to the report in saying their assist of Kavanaugh: “It seems to be a really thorough investigation,” Collins mentioned (noting she hadn’t but learn the report).

“We’ve seen no further corroborating data,” Flake concluded.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) bought on board, too, as soon as it was clear Kavanaugh had the votes. Manchin mentioned in a press release:

“I’ve reservations about this vote given the intense accusations in opposition to Choose Kavanaugh and the temperament he displayed within the listening to and my coronary heart goes out to anybody who has skilled any kind of sexual assault of their life. Nevertheless, based mostly on the entire data I’ve out there to me, together with the lately accomplished FBI report, I’ve discovered Choose Kavanaugh to be a certified jurist who will comply with the Structure and decide circumstances based mostly on the authorized findings earlier than him. I do hope that Choose Kavanaugh is not going to enable the partisan nature this course of took to comply with him onto the court docket.

After the Senate voted to approve Kavanaugh, Trump took a victory lap, placing a misinform the purpose of the investigation course of. When requested by Leslie Stahl if he believed Blasey Ford, he mentioned: “I’m not going to get into it. As a result of we gained. It doesn’t matter. We gained.”