People For the American Way

Update, Round 2: Senators Begin Reviewing Flawed FBI Investigative Report

News and Analysis
Update, Round 2: Senators Begin Reviewing Flawed FBI Investigative Report

As of 10 a.m. Thursday morning, Senators have begun reviewing the supplemental FBI background investigation on Brett Kavanaugh and the allegations against him. More and more evidence is making clear that the report is deeply flawed and, at least partly as a result of White House limitations, will not provide the through and effective information that some Senators were seeking before making a final decision on how to vote on the Kavanaugh nomination. Specifically:

  • Reports have made clear that the White House limited the scope of the investigation, both by not allowing agents to interview Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and by otherwise limiting the subjects to be dealt with and witnesses to be interviewed. Despite requests from Senators, the White House has failed to release publicly the instructions or limits concerning the FBI probe.
  • Dr. Blasey Ford’s attorneys wrote to the FBI on Tuesday and wrote to Senator Grassley on Wednesday, offering to provide important corroborating information to the FBI, such as therapy notes and polygraph data. Because of the apparent failure of the FBI to contact them, this corroborating material has apparently not been provided. Her attorneys explained that they and Dr. Blasey Ford were “profoundly disappointed”, and that as a result of these limitations, the FBI effort “cannot be called an investigation.”
  • One report suggests that the FBI has interviewed a total of only around six witnesses (the White House says nine), compared to the approximately 40 with relevant information. The FBI reportedly did not investigate at all the contentions made by a third alleged Kavanaugh assault survivor, Julie Swetnick. In response to the FBI refusal to interview them, some have released statements on their own, such as Kavanaugh’s former college roommate who has made clear that Kavanaugh has “lied under oath” about drinking and other matters.
  • Senators’ review of the investigation will be extremely limited. Senate Majority Leader McConnell has rejected the idea of a nonpartisan FBI briefing, and instead partisan staff will brief Senators and make one copy of the report available in alternating one-hour blocks of time to Republican and Democratic senators. There are no current plans to make even redacted copies of the interviews and other information available, and McConnell has said specifically that the report will be confidential,  even though Republicans have previously arranged release of  totally unredacted copies of confidential FBI interview reports in connection with the investigation concerning Hilary Clinton emails several years ago.
  • Although the FBI was given a full week until this Friday to complete the report, it was turned in to the White House several days early, late Wednesday, with some suggesting that this will allow McConnell to schedule votes on Kavanaugh this week. In fact, McConnell filed late Wednesday for cloture to cut off debate on Kavanaugh, even before the report went to the Senate. The vote on cloture is to occur Friday.
  • Senate democrats will speak further to the press at 11 a.m. this morning after their initial review of the report.

Senator Jeff Flake, who was instrumental in securing the FBI investigation, stated earlier this week that he did not want a superficial probe or one that “just gives us more cover.” Unfortunately, that appears to be exactly what he and other senators are getting. Those senators with serious concerns about assault allegations against and lack of honesty by Brett Kavanaugh cannot truly be satisfied with this FBI report. And for the sake of the American public and the Senate, the White House instructions and limits on the probe must be released, along with a redacted version of the report and a list of those many witnesses who were apparently not even interviewed.


Brett Kavanaugh, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, FBI, Protecting the Supreme Court