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Senator Says FBI’s Investigation Into Brett Kavanaugh Was “Fake,” Asks Merrick Garland to Step In

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh yells while testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee

A U.S. senator has sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, asking him to investigate the FBI’s 2018 background check into then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The FBI launched an investigation after Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified before Congress, detailing accusations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh. But according to Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, that investigation was “politically-constrained and perhaps fake.”

After Dr. Ford gave her testimony and Kavanaugh denied the allegations, as well as other allegations brought against him, it was clear that “there were questions of fact to resolve,” Whitehouse writes in his letter. He says the FBI did basically nothing to resolve those facts, though.

“At least two law firms contacted the FBI with the names of credible witnesses who had information pertaining to the investigations,” he writes. One firm provided the names of “highly relevant” potential witnesses and the other sent a letter to the FBI recounting how one witness the bureau had already questioned provided at least twenty names for additional potential witnesses, none of whom appear to have been contacted by the FBI.

Not only did the FBI not reach out to relevant witnesses, but other witnesses contacted the Senate committee after having “’tried in vain to reach the F.B.I. on their own,’ but could find no one at the Bureau willing to accept their testimony.” Whitehouse writes that he and his colleagues verified what these witnesses were telling them. “When members made inquiries we faced the same experience: the FBI had assigned no person to accept or gather evidence.”

The FBI then set up a “tip line” to receive information regarding Kavanaugh’s investigation. Except it wasn’t clear if or how those tips were being monitored, even though, upon the committee’s review, it was clear that “a stack of information had indeed flowed in through the ‘tip line.'”

Whitehouse writes:

If standard procedures were violated, and the Bureau conducted a fake investigation rather than a sincere, thorough and professional one, that in my view merits congressional oversight to understand how, why, and at whose behest and with whose knowledge or connivance, this was done. The FBI “stonewall” of all questions related to this episode provides little reassurance of its propriety. If, on the other hand, the “investigation” was conducted with drawbridges up and a fake “tip line” and that was somehow “by the book,” as Director Wray claimed, that would raise serious questions about the “book” itself. It cannot and should not be the policy of the FBI to not follow up on serious allegations of misconduct during background check investigations.

These allegations of a sham investigation are not new. We’ve known for years that the FBI’s investigation didn’t include interviews with Dr. Ford, Kavanaugh, or more than 40 other people who were believed to have relevant information, and there were numerous reports at the time that the White House had placed strict limitations on the scope of the investigation (though the White House denied that was true). Senator Whitehouse even brought up all of these same concerns back in 2019.

What’s changed is that we now have an attorney general who isn’t a complete puppet for the Trump administration, who might actually take steps to investigate the validity of the FBI’s investigation, along with three other matters Whitehouse included in his letter.

“During Senate confirmation hearings for Garland and nominee for Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, and in an oversight hearing with FBI Director Christopher Wray, Whitehouse asked the Department to clean up the “unfinished business” of stonewalled Judiciary Committee oversight during and even before the Trump administration,” the letter reads. “Garland, Monaco, and Wray all assured Whitehouse they would cooperate.”

Here’s hoping they do.

(image: Andrew Harnik – Pool/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) has a lot of opinions about a lot of things. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Brock Wilbur and too many cats.