Arizona Senator Jeff Flake called for a thorough FBI background investigation while speaking at an event in Boston. “It does no good to have an investigation that gives us more cover, for example,” he said. “We actually have find out what we can find out.”
While the Twitter-troll-in-chief lied his ass off in tweets and press statements that the FBI could follow any lead and speak to any witness, White House legal counsel Don McGahn, a longtime friend of Judge Kavanaugh’s, made certain the background investigation would be severely restricted. To borrow Trump’s favorite phrase, the FBI background investigation was “rigged.”
Bloomberg News reports that the FBI did not even interview the principals involved. FBI Lacks White House Approval to Talk to Kavanaugh and Ford.
NBC News reports that the FBI has not contacted dozens of potential sources in Kavanaugh investigation:
More than 40 people with potential information into the sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh have not been contacted by the FBI, according to multiple sources that include friends of both the nominee and his accusers.
[S]ources close to the investigation, as well as a number of people who know those involved, say the FBI has not contacted dozens of potential corroborators or character witnesses.
More than 20 individuals who know either Kavanaugh or Ramirez, who has accused the nominee of exposing himself to her while the two attended Yale University, have not heard from the FBI despite attempts to contact investigators, including Kavanaugh’s roommate at the time and a former close Ramirez friend.
A senior U.S. official and two other sources briefed on the details of the FBI investigation confirmed to NBC news that the FBI’s work on the Brett Kavanaugh matter remains significantly limited in scope, and that it’s unlikely agents will be allowed to interview many, if any, additional witnesses before the probe wraps up this week.
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Ramirez’s attorney, John Clune, tweeted Tuesday that the FBI “is not conducting — or not being permitted to conduct — a serious investigation.” Clune added, “We are not aware of the FBI affirmatively reaching out to any of those witnesses.”
The White House has set up the FBI to be the fall guy for a sham investigation. It is another step in Trump’s campaign to undermine the credibility of the FBI and the Department of Justice ahead of the conclusions of the Special Counsel investigation. It is a miscarriage of justice.
Moreover, this is the FBI “investigation that gives us more cover” that Senator Flake earlier this week indicated would not be acceptable to him. Similar views were expressed by Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Susan Collins (R-ME). Will they stand up to oppose this miscarriage of justice, or will they do what they have more typically done, roll over and vote the party-line out of GOP tribalism? This is a test of character and convictions.
Conservative commentator Jennifer Rubin correctly notes that A plot to hamstring the FBI wouldn’t stay secret for long:
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), the most outspoken of the undecided Republican senators on Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, told an audience in Boston, Mass., this week, “It does no good to have an investigation that just gives us more cover, for example.” He wants a “real investigation.” However, if the FBI investigation ends without questioning either Kavanaugh, Christine Blasey Ford or key witnesses [it has], Flake and the rest of us will have every reason to think the investigation was a sham.
If undecided Republicans couldn’t vote to confirm Kavanaugh without a FBI investigation to get to the bottom of the allegation of sexual assault by Ford, then they cannot very well confirm if the FBI has not done its job before Friday’s vote. Flake and Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) can ask the FBI to be given more time. However, the senators’ only real recourse is to vote no if they are unsatisfied with the thoroughness of the investigation.
We would like to think the wavering Republicans would do exactly that, but we won’t be surprised if they cave and vote to confirm. What then?
If Kavanaugh is confirmed, between now and January when a new Congress gets sworn in, other witnesses or claimants may pop up. If they have evidence germane to the investigation, the FBI will be severely criticized and Kavanaugh’s credibility may suffer a fatal blow.
If Republicans lose the majority in one or both chambers in the November midterms, the Democrats will use their majority power to pick up the FBI investigation precisely where it left off. Let’s say Deborah Ramirez, the second woman to accuse Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, gave the FBI names of crucial witnesses but the FBI did not question any of them. You can bet Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), who likely will be the new Judiciary Committee chairman, can subpoena them and require them to testify in an open hearing. The Democrats can also subpoena the investigators, any documents and any communications between the FBI and the White House to see if the FBI was hampered by political pressure. The FBI investigation itself goes on trial in the court of public opinion, and, depending on what additional witnesses say, Kavanaugh’s tenure on the court could be imperiled in one of two ways.
First, there may be compelling evidence Kavanaugh did what he was accused of and then misled the Senate. [In fact, he did mislead the Senate. Demand Justice documents Kavanaugh: 31 Lies and Counting. The Huffington Post lso has a summary of All The Lies Brett Kavanaugh Told.] In that case, Nadler and his committee will waste little time drafting articles of impeachment. The Senate is then required to hold a trial to determine if Kavanaugh should be removed.
Alternatively, compelling evidence may be brought that Kavanaugh lied about his drinking, his calendar entries, his social life and matters like knowledge of Ramirez’s claims. The House doesn’t have to conclude he committed perjury to find that his answers were so misleading that he should be disqualified from serving on any court. Republicans feign amazement we are talking about “minor” matters, but no lie under oath is too little to disqualify a Supreme Court judge. (Even President Trump said so!) As Ben Wittes wrote in the Atlantic:
Kavanaugh’s testimony, whatever one makes of his impassioned claims of innocence on the specific charge, is not credible on the more general issue of his drinking habits. It is, as Kavanaugh suggested at the hearing, absurd for senators to argue with a Supreme Court nominee over his high-school yearbook. Then again, Kavanaugh’s unwillingness to acknowledge the obvious—that his yearbook described a hard-drinking culture that he was a part of and that makes Ford’s account more plausible—made it necessary to do so. Kavanaugh would not concede that the phrase “Beach Week Ralph Club—Biggest Contributor” referred to drinking culture, claiming it was simply a reference to his having a weak stomach. He ascribed implausibly innocent definitions to other terms that appeared in the yearbook. He diminished the casual cruelty he and his friends showed to one girl, Renate Schroeder Dolphin, by describing themselves as “Renate Alumni.”
This is the well-settled principle that false exculpatory statements are evidence — often strong evidence — of guilt.
Democrats, if convinced he lied, will surely mount an impeachment effort.
The three undecided Republican senators (perhaps more) should consider just how extensive an investigation was undertaken. Along with allegations of sexual assault and lack of truthfulness, they must decide whether Kavanaugh has so discredited his own stature as an impartial arbiter that putting him on the Supreme Court risk permanently damaging the judiciary. (You can bet every progressive interest group with a case before him would move to recuse him.)
More than 1,200 law professors have signed onto a letter saying that Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh displayed a lack of judicial restraint at a Senate hearing last week — behavior that would be disqualifying for any court nominee.
At the hearing, Kavanaugh vehemently defended his innocence and derided what he called “a calculated and orchestrated political hit.”
Afterward, law professors across the country began discussing “with great distress, the unprecedented and unfathomable demeanor of Judge Kavanaugh,” said Bernard Harcourt, a professor at Columbia Law School.
The letter, which will be sent to the U.S. Senate, grew out of those conversations. “It was a spontaneous reaction to the hearing,” Harcourt said.
Signatories included Martha Minow — the former dean of Harvard Law School, where Kavanaugh taught a popular course — and some scholars who previously supported Kavanaugh.
Harcourt said they signed out of concern about a rush to judgment, in the belief that for the Senate to elevate Kavanaugh “without full information and deliberation to the Supreme Court would undermine the respect owed” to the institution.
The letter to the Senate cites two laws governing bias and recusal, noting, “Judges must step aside if they are at risk of being perceived as or of being unfair . ..
“We have differing views about the other qualifications of Judge Kavanaugh,” they wrote. “But we are united, as professors of law and scholars of judicial institutions, in believing that Judge Kavanaugh did not display the impartiality and judicial temperament requisite to sit on the highest court of our land. “‘
As Jennifer Rubin concludes:
Unless 51 senators are certain the FBI talked to all the credible witnesses, Kavanaugh didn’t sexually assault either woman and was entirely truthful under oath, they should tell Trump to go back to his list of nominees. Whether they will do so is anyone’s guess.
Let’s be clear: at any other time in American history this nomination would have already been withdrawn from the Senate. The nominee himself would likely have had the good sense to withdrawn his name.
But we are living in the age of Trump, with anti-democratic authoritarian TeaPublicans seeking to impose a tyranny of the minority (thanks to a flawed constitution which protected the original sin of slavery by awarding two senators per state and devising the electoral college) – TeaPublicans do not represent the majority of Americans nor even the majority view – with Trumpism, the new American fascism.
TeaPublicans can retain their authoritarian control over government only by subverting the institutions of our constitutional democracy. They have been wildly successful in doing so only because too many Americans fail their civic duty and fail to vote. Planning to Vote in the November Election? Why Most Americans Probably Won’t.
Democracies die from indifference and neglect. It can happen here.
A preliminary vote is scheduled in the Senate for Friday. Contact your senators now to vociferously resist the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh.
UPDATE: CNN reports that both Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) said of the FBI report “it appears to be a very thorough investigation” – it is anything but – signaling that “an investigation that gives us more cover” was all they really wanted. They lied, the fix is in. GOP tribalism is stronger than conscience or principles.
Talking Points Memo reports, Kavanaugh’s Yale Suitemate Joins Chorus Of Witnesses Stonewalled By FBI:
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s Yale suitemate, Kenneth Appold, has come forward to put his name to his account of trying and failing to give the FBI pertinent corroborating information on Deborah Ramirez’s allegation.
In a Wednesday New Yorker report, Appold said that he recalls with clarity hearing about Kavanaugh allegedly exposing himself to Ramirez very soon after it allegedly occurred.
“I can corroborate Debbie’s account,” he told the New Yorker. “I believe her, because it matches the same story I heard thirty-five years ago, although the two of us have never talked.”
Appold said that he reached out to the FBI but was met with silence, ultimately submitting his testimony through the agency’s internet portal.
Per the New Yorker, Appold is not the only former acquaintance of Kavanaugh’s to be stymied during the FBI investigation process.
A former Yale classmate, Stephen Kantrowitz, said of Kavanaugh’s freshman dorm: “No one who lived in Lawrance Hall (so far as I know) has been contacted by the FBI. What a charade.”
According to the New Yorker, two unnamed Georgetown Prep classmates submitted sworn statements to the FBI and Senate Judiciary Committee.
One of them went to his local FBI field office, but was turned away and never heard back. That classmate in particular disputes Kavanaugh’s allegations about his sobriety and sexual innocence at the time.
Per the New Yorker, an alumna of a high school close to Georgetown Prep named Angela Walker also submitted a statement in which she recalls being warned not to go upstairs where the bedrooms are at parties with Georgetown Prep boys, since it could be “dangerous.”
Not “a very thorough investigation,” is it.