It was three years ago, in July 2018, that then-President Donald Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court to fill the seat that the retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy had held since 1988. Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings turned out to be incredibly tumultuous when psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford alleged that he had tried to sexually assault her in 1982 — an accusation that Kavanaugh vehemently denied. Three years later, according to the New York Times, the FBI is disclosing details about the way it handled its probe of Kavanaugh in 1988 — and some Democratic senators are expressing great dissatisfaction.
Times reporter Kate Kelly explains, "In a letter dated June 30 to two Democratic senators, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Chris Coons of Delaware, an FBI assistant director, Jill C. Tyson, said that the most 'relevant' of the 4,500 tips the agency received during an investigation into Mr. Kavanaugh's past were referred to White House lawyers in the Trump administration, whose handling of them remains unclear. The letter left uncertain whether the FBI itself followed up on the most compelling leads. The agency was conducting a background check rather than a criminal investigation, meaning that 'the authorities, policies and procedures used to investigate criminal matters did not apply,' the letter said."
Tyson's letter to Whitehouse and Coons was in response to a letter they had sent to FBI Director Christopher Wray in 2019, when the Democratic senators were seeking details about the way in which the FBI had handled its probe of Kavanaugh in 2018.
This week, in response to that June 30 letter, Whitehouse and six other Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee — including Coons, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Sen. Dick Durban of Illinois — requested additional details about that probe.
The report explained:
In an interview, Mr. Whitehouse said the F.B.I.'s response showed that the F.B.I.'s handling of the accusations into misconduct by Mr. Kavanaugh was a sham. Ms. Tyson's letter, Mr. Whitehouse said, suggested that the F.B.I. ran a "fake tip line that never got properly reviewed, that was presumably not even conducted in good faith."
In 2018, many Democrats were highly critical of the vetting of Kavanaugh, arguing that it was rushed and saying that Trump's nominee should have been more thoroughly vetted — especially in light of Ford's accusations and the fact that he was nominated for a lifetime appointment.
When the U.S. Senate voted on Kavanaugh's nomination, the vote came down along largely partisan lines. Most Democrats voted against Kavanaugh's confirmation, but Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia was an exception. And conservative Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska was slammed as a RINO (Republican in Name Only) by MAGA Republicans for voting not to confirm Kavanaugh.
The Democratic senators, in their letter to the FBI this week, wrote, "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. 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."
This long-delayed answer confirms how badly we were spun by Director Wray and the FBI in the Kavanaugh background i… https://t.co/oNIqaegnOc— Sheldon Whitehouse (@Sheldon Whitehouse) 1626969980.0