WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats on Tuesday demanded an FBI briefing and the public release of the agency’s investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, a report that could be concluded as soon as Wednesday.
But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the public would not see the report after the FBI completes its background investigation.
“We’ll get an FBI report soon. It will be made available to each senator, and only senators will be allowed to look at it. And that’s the way these reports are always handled,” McConnell told reporters after the weekly caucus luncheons. “And we’ll be voting this week.”
The New York Times and Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that the report is expected to be done as soon as Wednesday, but a Senate Judiciary Committee spokesman said, “We don’t have that information.”
McConnell accused Democrats of a “despicable” attempt to drag Kavanaugh “through the mud.”
McConnell said he was determined to confirm Kavanaugh despite the bitter partisan fight and delays caused by sexual misconduct allegations against the judge that led to a special hearing last Thursday and a week’s delay in the Senate floor vote to allow for the FBI probe.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), whose party is strenuously raising concerns that Kavanaugh lacks the credibility and judicial temperament for the high court, said McConnell and the White House must be more transparent about the FBI report.
“The White House must publicly release the directive to the FBI so we can clear up once and for all the scope of the background investigation,” Schumer said. “We need to be briefed by the FBI, by the agent in charge, on the extent of the investigation before there is a vote.”
Schumer also said, “There is a growing consensus in the Senate that when the FBI investigation is complete that the findings should be released publicly with any personal information redacted.”
Democrats have complained that the White House has narrowly restricted the FBI’s investigation despite President Donald Trump’s assertion the agents would have “free rein” to follow leads.
According to news reports, the FBI has interviewed three witnesses California professor Christine Blasey Ford identified as attending the small house party 36 years ago where she said a drunken Kavanaugh tried to rape her in an upstairs bedroom with his friend Mark Judge in the room.
All three — Judge, Patrick J. Smyth and Ford’s then-best friend Leland Keyser – have submitted statements to the Judiciary Committee that they don’t recall the gathering . Judge and Smyth also said they never saw Kavanaugh act in the manner Ford described .
The FBI also interviewed Tim Gaudette, a Georgetown Prep classmate of Kavanaugh's, said his lawyer Kenneth Eichner, who declined further comment, the Washington Post reported. Kavanaugh's calendar showed a gathering of people on July 1, 1982 at Gaudette's house — including four of the people identified by Ford as being at the party where she claims the assault took place.
But lawyers for Ford, who made public her sexual assault accusations just over two weeks ago, wrote the FBI Tuesday asking why it had not interviewed Ford and the witnesses she had named, Politico reported.
The FBI also reportedly has interviewed Deborah Ramirez, a Yale classmate who accused Kavanaugh of exposing himself to her during a dorm party drinking game when they were freshmen, reports said — but none of the more than 12 witnesses she sent to the FBI.
It is unclear whether the FBI has interviewed anyone about accusations by Judith Swetnick that Kavanaugh and Judge attended parties and participated in getting young women drunk, who then were gang raped.
It also is unclear if McConnell has the 50 votes he needs from his 51 Republican senators for Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) have said they would not make up their minds until after the FBI report is done.
Flake expressed new doubts Tuesday about Kavanaugh, saying he was “troubled by the tone” of the judge’s emotional and combative testimony last Thursday, and his direct attacks on Democrats as he vehemently denied he had sexually assaulted anyone at any time.
“I was very troubled by the tone of the remarks,” Flake said at The Atlantic Festival, a conference in Washington. “The interaction with the members was sharp and partisan, and that concerns me.”
He added, “We can’t have that on the Court.”