Jul 23, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Senate Democrats demand answers on FBI's Kavanaugh probe

Photo of Brett Kavanaugh's side profile shoulders up

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Senate Democrats are demanding that the FBI hand over "all records and communications" related to the FBI tip line set up to investigate Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh when he was a nominee in 2018.

Why it matters: The ask comes after the FBI revealed it received more than 4,500 tips about Kavanaugh when he was awaiting Senate confirmation amid sexual assault allegations. Only the most "relevant" of these tips were forwarded to the Trump White House.

State of play: After Christine Blasey Ford, a California professor, accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were in high school in the early 1980s, the FBI pursued a review of Kavanaugh, but did not open a criminal investigation.

  • A background check sufficed, an FBI assistant director claimed in a letter to Senate Democrats released Thursday.
  • The Bureau passed only the most "relevant" tips to the Office of White House Counsel under then-President Trump, "but no further, as a 2010 Memorandum of Understanding between the Justice Department and White House requires," per ABC News.
  • It remains unclear what actions were taken based on these tips.

What they're saying: In a response to the FBI letter, Senate Democrats asked the FBI to turn over all materials related to the tip line by Aug. 31 and explain how the agency categorized tips as "relevant" or not.

  • The group noted that details from the background check were never shared with the senators overseeing Kavanaugh's nomination.
  • "The admissions in your letter corroborate and explain numerous credible accounts by individuals and firms that they had contacted the FBI with information 'highly relevant to ... allegations' of sexual misconduct by Justice Kavanaugh, only to be ignored," they wrote.
  • "If the FBI was not authorized to or did not follow up on any of the tips that it received from the tip line, it is difficult to understand the point of having a tip line at all."
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