The White House said early Thursday morning that it had received the FBI’s completed report on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and that it was “fully confident” that the Senate would vote to confirm President Donald Trump’s nominee to the nation’s top court.
Raj Shah, deputy White House press secretary, said the report, which Democrats have denounced as hasty and incomplete, marked “the last addition to the most comprehensive review of a Supreme Court nominee in history, which includes extensive hearings, multiple committee interviews, over 1,200 questions for the record and over a half million pages of documents.”
In three tweets, the first published at 2:24 a.m. Thursday, Shah said lawmakers will have had “ample time” to review the results of the latest probe by the time they vote on Friday, according to a schedule set into motion Wednesday by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. Senators will be able to review the report at a secure facility at the Capitol beginning Thursday.
The efforts by Senate leadership, in concert with the White House, to move swiftly on a confirmation vote came as Democrats raised fresh objections about how Kavanaugh, who stands accused of sexual assault by several women, has been vetted. He denies the allegations.
In a letter to Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, eight of the committee’s 10 Democrats contested the claim of Republican staff that prior investigations had demonstrated a clean record. They said past background checks had turned up evidence of inappropriate behavior but had left out specifics.
Even as the White House gave the FBI permission to broaden its examination this week, it held the bureau to a strict timeline. Democrats, along with attorneys and other advocates for Kavanaugh’s accusers, cried foul, saying the investigation was not designed to ferret out the facts but rather to give Republicans cover to force the nomination through. Republicans countered that Democrats were interested only in delaying the process.
The early-morning tweets from Shah appeared to confirm a Wall Street Journal article posted several hours earlier indicating that the White House had found no evidence in the FBI report corroborating accusations of misconduct against the nominee.
The White House’s verdict is not necessarily surprising, given the president’s repeated affirmations of his confidence in his nominee. On Tuesday, at a rally in Southaven, Mississippi, Trump mocked Christine Blasey Ford, one of the women who has come forward to say that Kavanaugh forced himself on her many years ago. Ford testified last week before the Senate Judiciary Committee, putting pressure on Republicans to submit to a further investigation into any possible wrongdoing.
The position of the White House is hardly decisive, as it is the Senate – and most likely a cluster of centrist lawmakers – that will decide Kavanaugh’s fate. Still, the declaration means dissenting Republican senators could have to publicly oppose the conclusions of their own party’s president.
(c) 2018, The Washington Post · Isaac Stanley-Becker