Brett Kavanaugh: Senators spar over FBI report on top court pick

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US senators are sparring over an FBI report into sexual misconduct claims against Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee.

One copy of the report exists for all 100 senators to read. Democrats said it was incomplete and Republicans retorted it did not support the accusations.

Judge Kavanaugh has vehemently denied all allegations against him.

A confirmation vote is expected on Saturday. His appointment would tilt the court in favour of conservatives.

The court’s nine justices are appointed for life and have the final say on some of the most contentious issues in US public life, from abortion to gun control and voting laws.

The FBI’s investigation will not be made public.

Republicans have accused Democrats of seeking to delay the confirmation of Mr Kavanaugh in the hope that they will make gains in the mid-term elections in November and stop his appointment altogether.

What are the allegations?

Last week Professor Christine Blasey Ford testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee that Mr Kavanaugh, 53, and another man had assaulted her when they were teenagers in the 1980s.

She said Mr Kavanaugh was drunk and had pinned her on to a bed, tried to remove her clothing and put his hand over her mouth when she screamed.

Another woman, Deborah Ramirez, has accused Mr Kavanaugh of exposing himself to her during a drinking game when they were students at Yale University in the 1980s.

After Prof Ford’s testimony, the Senate panel approved Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination but asked for the FBI to conduct further inquiry before the full Senate voted on his appointment to America’s top court.

However the FBI did not examine allegations made by a third woman, Julie Swetnick, that Mr Kavanaugh was involved in the drugging and sexual assault of girls at house parties in the 1980s. He has described Ms Swetnick’s allegation as a “joke”.

What’s in the report?

The report contains summaries of interviews that the FBI has conducted and which the White House has forwarded to the Senate. It is not meant to have the form of a conclusion or recommendation.

Senators have been told not to reveal what the report says, but it remains to be seen whether that secrecy will hold.

The report is in paper format only and no copies will be made. It will be held in a secure room in the basement of the Capitol building, known as a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or “Skif”, AP news agency reported.

Committee chairman Chuck Grassley reviewed the report at 08:00 local time (12:00 GMT) and ranking Democrat Dianne Feinstein saw it at 09:00. After that, the Republican committee members see it at 10:00 and the Democrats at 11:00.

Investigators spoke to Ms Ramirez for more than two hours on Sunday, and she provided a list of more than 20 possible witnesses. However, her lawyer has complained that the FBI has not contacted any of them.

Lawyers for his first accuser, Prof Ford, also said that she had not been contacted by the agency.

Democrats have raised concerns that the investigation has been too narrow in scope, and that key witnesses have been omitted.

In a statement after reading the report Chairman Grassley said: “There’s nothing in it that we didn’t already know”.

“Neither the Judiciary Committee nor the FBI could locate any third parties who can attest to any of the allegations,” he said, adding that the investigation “found no hint of misconduct”.

Ranking Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein called it an “incomplete investigation,” adding that “the most notable part of this report is what’s not in it”.

 

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