July 26, 2021
A group of Democratic senators is demanding more answers from the FBI after the agency revealed new details about the limited scope of its supplemental investigation into Brett Kavanaugh‘s background when he was a nominee for the Supreme Court in 2018, NBC News reports.
In a letter sent on Wednesday, June 30 to Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island) and Chris Coons (D-Delaware)—but only made public on Thursday, July 22— Jill Tyson, assistant director of the FBI’s Congressional Affairs Office acknowledged that the department conducted only 10 additional interviews in its supplemental investigation, even though it had received over 4,500 tips.
Tyson said “relevant tips” from phone calls and messages were forwarded to the White House counsel’s office. It’s unclear what became of the tips after that.
Whitehouse, who had written then-FBI Director Christopher Wray asking for details about the inquiry, said, “This long-delayed answer confirms how badly we were spun by Director Wray and the FBI in the Kavanaugh background investigation and hearing.”
While Wray has said the FBI followed tip line procedures, “he meant the ‘procedure’ of doing whatever Trump White House counsel told them to do,” Whitehouse tweeted, adding, “That’s misleading as hell.”
A spokesperson for the FBI declined to comment. Former White House Counsel Don McGahn did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.
Then-President Donald Trump tasked the FBI with conducting a supplemental background investigation into Kavanaugh at the urging of some Republican senators after his nomination to the high court in 2018 was endangered by sexual misconduct allegations dating to his high school and college years. Kavanaugh repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
“As the Senate has requested, this update must be limited in scope and completed in less than one week,” Trump said at the time.
Republicans said the subsequent FBI report vindicated Kavanaugh, while Democrats maintained that it was incomplete. NBC News reported at the time that the FBI hadn’t contacted over 40 people with potential information about the sexual misconduct allegations.
The Senate confirmed the nomination in a narrow 50-48 vote.
Attorneys for the accuser who testified at Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing, Christine Blasey Ford, said in a statement that the FBI letter confirmed that the agency’s investigation was “a sham and a major institutional failure.”
“Because the FBI and Trump’s White House Counsel hid the ball on this, we do not know how many of those 4,500 tips were consequential, how many of those tips supported Dr. Ford’s testimony, or how many showed that Kavanaugh perjured himself during his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee,” said the lawyers, Debra S. Katz and Lisa J. Banks. “Our nation deserved better.”
Research contact: @NBCNews