Senate gets confidential FBI files on Kavanaugh allegations

The White House said senators had “ample time” to review the report

The White House has sent the Senate a new FBI background file on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, giving senators a day to digest the confidential material and make a decision on the tottering nomination before a first vote on Friday.

Even before the FBI delivered interview summaries on claims that Kavanaugh sexually abused women, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell set the first vote for his polarized chamber in an election-season battle over power and who to believe that has consumed the nation. A showdown roll call on confirmation seemed likely over the weekend.

With Republicans clinging to a razor-thin 51-49 majority and five senators — including three Republicans — still vacillating, the conservative jurist’s prospects of Senate confirmation remained murky and dependent, in part, on the file’s contents, which are supposed to be kept secret. Kavanaugh staunchly denies the allegations.

“There will be plenty of time for members to review and be briefed on the supplemental material” before Friday’s procedural vote, McConnell said to the nearly empty chamber.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley said early Thursday that he had the Kavanaugh FBI report: “Supplemental FBI background file for Judge Kavanaugh has been received,” he tweeted.

The White House said senators had “ample time” to review the report and vote on Kavanaugh.

“With this additional information, the White House is fully confident the Senate will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court,” spokesman Raj Shah said.

Lawmakers were to begin reading the FBI report Thursday morning, with senators and a small number of top aides permitted to view it in a secure room in the Capitol complex. Senators are not supposed to divulge the contents of the agency’s background reports.

RELATED: Trump says he supports ‘comprehensive’ FBI Kavanaugh probe

The report arrived at a Capitol palpably tense over the political stakes of the nomination fight and from aggressive anti-Kavanaugh protesters who have rattled and reportedly harassed senators. Feeding the anxiety was an unusually beefy presence of the U.S. Capitol Police, who were keeping demonstrators and frequently reporters at arm’s length by forming wedges around lawmakers walking through corridors.

Amid complaints that some lawmakers were being confronted outside their homes, McConnell claimed on the Senate floor that the protesters were “part of the organized effort” to derail Kavanaugh’s nomination.

“There is no chance in the world that they’re going to scare us out of doing our duty,” he said.

Adding to the uncertainty, the three undecided GOP senators who could decide Kavanaugh’s fate rebuked President Donald Trump for mocking one accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, by mimicking her responses to questions at last week’s dramatic Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

“I would tell him, knock it off. You’re not helping,” Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said of Trump’s Tuesday night tirade.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Trump’s insults marked a “new low.”

Barring leaks, it was unclear how much of the FBI report, if any, would be made public. While senators from both sides have expressed support for revealing at least parts of the findings, FBI background checks on nominees are supposed to remain confidential.

Underscoring rising tensions, Democrats suggested that previous FBI background checks of Kavanaugh may have unearthed misconduct by the nominee.

Democrats wrote to Grassley, R-Iowa, challenging a Tuesday tweet by GOP aides saying prior investigations never found “a whiff of ANY issue — at all — related in any way to inappropriate sexual behaviour or alcohol abuse.” Democrats wrote that the GOP tweet contained information that is “not accurate.”

Committee Republicans tweeted in response that their prior tweet was “completely truthful” and accused Democrats of “false smears.”

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, told reporters that Trump’s lampooning of Ford at a Tuesday night Mississippi campaign rally was “just plain wrong.” Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, called it “wholly inappropriate and in my view unacceptable,” and Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said on NBC’s “Today” show that the remarks were “kind of appalling.”

Those senators, along with Democrats Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, have yet to declare how they will vote.

“All of us need to keep in mind there’s a few people that are on the fence right now. And right now, that’s sort of where our focus needs to be,” said Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, who has traded barbs with Trump and will retire at year’s end.

RELATED: Christine Blasey Ford steps into spotlight; defiant Kavanaugh fights back

Trump drew laughs Tuesday with his rendition of how Ford answered questions at last week’s hearing. “I had one beer — that’s the only thing I remember,” he stated inaccurately.

As he flew aboard Air Force One to the Mississippi rally, Trump was enraged by New York Times articles about Kavanaugh’s high school and college years and alleging tax avoidance efforts by the president and his family, according to a person familiar with the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

White House counsellor Kellyanne Conway on Wednesday echoed the president’s newly aggressive approach. She said Ford has “been treated like a Fabergé egg by all of us, beginning with me and the president,” and said Trump was merely “pointing out factual inconsistencies.”

Trump himself didn’t respond publicly to the criticism. On Twitter, he hailed Kavanaugh as “a fine man and great intellect” and insisted, “The country is with him all the way!”

The California psychology professor has testified that a drunken Kavanaugh sexually abused her in a locked room at a high school party in the 1980s and has said she believed he was trying to rape her. Kavanaugh has denied her assertions and those of two other women, who have accused him of other instances of sexual misconduct in the 1980s.

Democrats argued that the investigation has been insufficient, lacking interviews with her, with Kavanaugh and others who his accusers have said could know about the alleged incidents.

In a statement Wednesday night after McConnell set the vote in motion, Ford’s counsel wrote: “An FBI supplemental background investigation that did not include an interview of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford — nor the witnesses who corroborate her testimony — cannot be called an investigation. We are profoundly disappointed that after the tremendous sacrifice she made in coming forward, those directing the FBI investigation were not interested in seeking the truth.”

Corker and Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., said senators were expecting the document to contain reports that FBI agents compile on their interviews with subjects, perhaps accompanied by a cover letter. Background checks do not traditionally contain investigators’ conclusions about who they believe is credible.

Washington has been awaiting completion of the investigation since last week, when Flake, Collins and Murkowski pressured a reluctant Trump and GOP leaders to order the FBI to renew its background check of the 53-year-old Kavanaugh.

The FBI interviewed several people, including three who Ford has said attended a 1982 high school gathering in suburban Maryland where she says Kavanaugh’s attack occurred, plus another Kavanaugh friend. The agency has also spoken to a second woman, Deborah Ramirez, who has claimed Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a Yale party when both were freshmen.

Democrats also demanded that the FBI privately brief the Senate about the investigation before the chamber votes. McConnell rejected that request in a letter Wednesday to Schumer, saying Democrats would use it to delay Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

Alan Fram And Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

BC Ferries confirms Northern Sea Wolf ready for summer season

The plan is to have the Northern Sea Wolf assume the mid-coast service as of May 18

Historic building in Alexis Creek destroyed by fire overnight

“If it hadn’t been a heavy rain last night we could have lost many houses in the area”

Gas prices spike in northern B.C. ahead of the long weekend

Fuel went up 17 cents overnight in Prince Rupert

OP-ED: Striking a balance with the oil tanker moratorium

Dennis Patterson, Senator for Nunavut, on protecting Canada’s environment and economy with Bill C-48

Dashcam captures close call between minivan, taxi at busy Vancouver intersection

To make the footage more nerve-wracking, a pedestrian can be seen standing at the corner

Waste not: Kootenay brewery leftovers feed the local food chain

Spent grains from the Trail Beer Refinery are donated to local farmers and growers, none go to waste

Deck collapses in Langley during celebration, 35 people injured

Emergency responders rushed to the Langley home

B.C. mom wages battle to get back four kids taken from her in Egypt

Sara Lessing of Mission has help from Abbotsford law firm

VIDEO: Fire guts Peachland home

Crews are still on scene pumping water onto the blaze in the Okanagan neighbourhood

$6K raised in one day’s time for family of woman gunned down in Penticton

GoFundMe launched for family of Darlene Knippelberg, to pay for funeral costs and other expenses

B.C. mountain biker sent home from hospital twice, despite broken vertebrae

Released in Maple Ridge to go home with three fractured vertebrae

Seven tips to travel safely this Easter long weekend

An average of three people are killed, and hundreds more injured, each Easter long weekend in B.C.

Seattle’s 4-20 ‘protestival’ enjoys tolerance, some support – and B.C. could do the same

Seattle’s Hempfest a large-scale occasions with vendors, prominent musical acts and thousands of attendees

Most Read