Battle begins over FBI investigation of Kavanaugh
by Harvest Prude
Posted 10/01/18, 12:08 pm
WASHINGTON—The FBI has reopened its background investigation into embattled Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, following a compromise Friday from Senate Republicans, led by Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.
On Friday, President Donald Trump ordered the FBI to reopen its investigation of Kavanaugh, repeating Flake’s parameters that the probe should be limited in scope and take less than a week. All 51 Republican senators supported a motion to proceed with Kavanaugh’s nomination late Friday, and the vote on his confirmation will be delayed until after the FBI wraps up its investigation.
Senate Democrats are complaining that the FBI investigation may not be effective because of its limited scope, while Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., requested Sunday that the White House hand over any “written directive[s]” it sent to the FBI. On Saturday, Trump told reporters the FBI would have “free rein” in the investigation. On Sunday he tweeted that Democrats “are starting to put out the word that the ‘time’ and ‘scope’ of FBI looking into Judge Kavanaugh and witnesses is not enough. … For them, it will never be enough!”
Attorney Michael Avenatti, who represents Julie Swetnick, another woman who accused Kavanaugh of inappropriate behavior during his high school years, complained Monday he had not heard from the FBI. Investigators have already talked to Deborah Ramirez, who accused Kavanaugh of exposing himself to her at a party while they were students at Yale University.
Another Yale classmate released a statement to The New York Times Sunday, saying Kavanaugh was dishonest in his testimony Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee about his drinking habits. Chad Ludington said that while at Yale, Kavanaugh drank heavily and frequently. “I can unequivocally say that in denying the possibility that he ever blacked out from drinking, and in downplaying the degree and frequency of his drinking, Brett has not told the truth,” said Ludington, who added he was willing to talk to the FBI.
Prosecutor Rachel Mitchell, who questioned professor Christine Blasey Ford for Senate Republicans at Thursday’s hearing, released a follow-up assessment of Ford’s accusations Sunday. In her report, Mitchell emphasized that though the confirmation hearing is not a trial, she does not think “a reasonable prosecutor would bring this case based on the evidence.” Mitchell added, “A ‘he said, she said’ case is incredibly difficult to prove. But this case is even weaker than that.” She cited Ford’s inconsistent accounts of when the assault happened, memory gaps about the party or where it was located, and lack of corroboration by other witnesses.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court began its new session Monday. One justice short, the remaining eight heard courtroom arguments on an environmental issue.
Read more from The Sift Sign up for The Sift email
Harvest is a reporter for WORLD based in Washington, D.C.