Almost three years after Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh’s tumultuous confirmation to the Supreme Court, the FBI has disclosed more details of its efforts to examine the record of justice, leading a group of Senate Democrats to question the rigor verification and conclude that it has been shaped. largely by Trump’s White House.
In a letter dated June 30 to two Democratic senators, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Chris Coons of Delaware, FBI deputy director Jill C. Tyson said the most “relevant” of the 4,500 tips received by the The agency during an investigation into Mr. Kavanaugh’s past has been referred to White House lawyers for the Trump administration, whose treatment remains unclear.
The letter did not know if the FBI itself had followed the most convincing leads. The agency was conducting a background check rather than a criminal investigation, meaning that “the authorities, policies and procedures used to investigate criminal cases did not apply,” the letter said.
Ms Tyson’s letter was a response to a 2019 letter from Mr Whitehouse and Mr Coons to FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, asking questions about how the FBI handled Mr Kavanaugh’s review.
In an interview, Mr. Whitehouse said the FBI’s response showed that the FBI’s handling of Mr. Kavanaugh’s misconduct charges was a sham. Ms Tyson’s letter, Mr Whitehouse said, suggested that the FBI had launched a “bogus whistleblower line that has never been properly investigated, which was probably not even conducted in good faith.”
Mr Whitehouse and six of his fellow Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee responded to the FBI letter on Wednesday, requesting further details of the White House deal that governed the investigation. They also insisted on getting more information on how incoming tips were handled.
“Your letter confirms that the FBI whistleblower line was a break with past practice and that the FBI was politically coerced by Trump’s White House,” the senators wrote. Among the signatories to the letter were Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, the chairman of the committee, Mr. Coons and Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey.
Donald F. McGahn, the White House general counsel at the time, and the FBI did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Former President Donald J. Trump has long taken credit for Mr. Kavanaugh’s confirmation, which nearly derailed following allegations by a California professor that Mr. Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a rally in high school in the early 1980s.
Despite widespread concern over the allegations – which were followed by further allegations of sexual misconduct, which Mr. Kavanaugh has consistently denied – Mr. Trump strongly supported the judge. He deployed Mr. McGahn to guide Mr. Kavanaugh through the unusually difficult confirmation, which culminated in a lively one-day hearing in September 2018.
Christine Blasey Ford, the professor who said she was assaulted, and Mr. Kavanaugh were toasted by senators on the judiciary committee.
In a recent interview with author Michael Wolff, Mr. Trump put his treatment of Judge Kavanaugh in harsh terms, asking “Where would he be without me?” I saved his life.
But in addition to offering displays of support, Trump’s White House has carefully vetted investigations into Mr. Kavanaugh’s past. After Dr. Ford came forward, Mr. Trump’s staff attempted to limit the number of people questioned by the FBI in connection with this investigation. It was only after an outcry from Democrats over the president’s approach that the administration said the agency could conduct a more open investigation.
Ultimately, 10 witnesses were interviewed by the FBI, according to the recent FBI letter. Dr Ford and Mr Kavanaugh themselves have never been interviewed by the FBI
Connecticut Democrat Senator Richard Blumenthal, who signed Wednesday’s letter to the FBI, called the process “an injustice actually orchestrated by the White House under Donald Trump, an injustice that frankly did the FBI a disservice “.