October 04, 2018
Jeff Flake and Susan Collins say investigation appears ‘thorough’ but Democrats criticize inquiry as too narrow in scope

Two key Republicans whose support for Brett Kavanaugh hinges on an FBI report into allegations of sexual misconduct against him have expressed satisfaction with its scope and findings, boosting Kavanaugh’s chances of being confirmed to the US supreme court.
The confidential FBI report about allegations that Kavanaugh sexually abused women three decades ago was made available for senators to view on Thursday morning.
“It appears to be a very thorough investigation,” said Senator Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine.
Senator Jeff Flake, a Republican of Arizona, whose last-minute revolt at a vote last week triggered the supplemental FBI background check into the allegations, said: “We’ve seen no additional corroborating information.”
Both senators are seen as critical swing votes for the hardline conservative judge’s nomination to America’s highest bench. They have not said how they intend to vote at a crucial Senate ballot on his confirmation expected on Friday.
The limited FBI investigation was triggered after Dr Christine Blasey Ford testified at a Senate hearing last week, detailing her allegation that Kavanaugh attempted to rape her when the pair were teenagers in high school. Two other women have accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault and misconduct. Kavanaugh denies the allegations.
On Thursday, the Senate judiciary committee chair, Chuck Grassley, said the FBI report “found no hint of misconduct” but Democrats criticised the investigation, implying that it was narrow in scope to protect Donald Trump’s supreme court nominee.
“Having received a briefing on all of the documents, I disagree with Senator Grassley’s statement that there was no hint of misconduct,” Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer told reporters. He did not elaborate, citing confidentiality constraints.
The committee’s ranking Democrat, Senator Dianne Feinstein, criticized the report as incomplete.
“The most notable part of this report is what’s not in it,” Feinstein told reporters. She suggested the FBI may have been constrained by the White House.
The conflicting assessments came as Republicans and the White House were increasingly confident that Kavanaugh would be elevated to the nation’s highest court after a tumultuous week that left serious doubt about his confirmation.
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On Wednesday night, Senator Mitch McConnell set the stage to move forward with a pair of votes in the polarized chamber. The move sets up a crucial “cloture vote” to end debate on Kavanaugh’s nomination on Friday. Should Republicans get the majority of votes they need, a final vote on his confirmation could take place as early as Saturday.
In an angry speech on the Senate floor on Thursday, McConnell said: “We will not be hoodwinked by those who have tried hard to smear this good man, to drag him through the mud.”
Republicans hold a 51-49 majority in the Senate and a simple majority is needed to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination. A handful of Republican and Democratic senators are undecided on whether to support Kavanaugh and their votes will decide whether he is confirmed.
The limited FBI investigation report was placed in a secure basement room where the Senate’s 100 members were being given access.
The report was delivered to Capitol Hill at 2.30am on Thursday morning, with a statement from the White House saying it was “fully confident the Senate will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh to the supreme court”.
No copies will be made of the report, as is standard, and senators are not supposed to disclose its contents to the public.
Brett Kavanaugh: key Republicans express satisfaction with FBI report
The report reviewed allegations from Deborah Ramirez, who says Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a party when both were students at Yale.
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“What critics want is a never-ending fishing expedition into high school drinking,” said White House spokesman Raj Shah. He said the FBI reached out to 10 people and interviewed nine, including “several individuals at the request of the Senate, and had a series of follow-up interviews ... following certain leads.”
On Wednesday night, Trump reiterated his support for his nominee. “Wow, such enthusiasm and energy for Judge Brett Kavanaugh,” he tweeted. “He is a fine man and great intellect. The country is with him all the way!”
Ford’s lawyers have also criticised the limited scope of the reopened investigation. They pointed out that the additional FBI background investigation did not include interviewing Ford or the witnesses they say corroborate her testimony.
They said they were “profoundly disappointed” that those directing the investigation “were not interested in seeking the truth”.
Trump on Tuesday inflamed tensions over Kavanaugh’s nomination by mocking Ford at a Republican rally in Mississippi.

The rising tensions over Kavanaugh’s nomination have led to heightened security at the Capitol, with some senators using police escorts to shield them from protesters eager to confront them. Collins was escorted out of a hearing on Wednesday by three police officers.
Hundreds more anti-Kavanaugh demonstrators descended on the Capitol on Thursday, and more are expected over the weekend.
Fresh questions have been raised about Kavanaugh’s temperament and the evidence he gave to the judiciary committee last week. Several high school and college classmates have come forward to challenge his characterisation of his teenage years and his drinking habits.
On Thursday, a letter signed by more than 1,000 law professors will be delivered to senators urging them not to confirm Kavanaugh.
“We regret that we feel compelled to write to you, our Senators, to provide our views that at the Senate hearings on Sept. 27, Judge Brett Kavanaugh displayed a lack of judicial temperament that would be disqualifying for any court, and certainly for elevation to the highest court of this land,” they write.
In an opinion piece for Slate, one of Kavanaugh’s roommates at Yale, James Roche, said the judge “stood up under oath and lied about his drinking and about the meaning of words in his yearbook”.
“His willingness to lie to avoid embarrassment throws doubt on his denials about the larger questions of sexual assault,” Roche wrote, adding that he would be willing to speak to the FBI.
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