The FBI is facing new scrutiny from Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democratic senator and former prosecutor who serves on the judiciary committee, for its background check and investigation of Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearings.
Kavanaugh denied claims of sexual assault and misconduct by Christine Blasey Ford and others in the 2018 confirmation proceedings.
The FBI was called to investigate the allegations during the Senate confirmation process but was later accused by some Democratic senators of conducting an incomplete background check. For example, two key witnesses – Ford and Kavanaugh – were never interviewed as part of the inquiry.
In a letter to newly appointed Attorney General Merrick Garland, Whitehouse points out that some witnesses who wanted to share their accounts with the FBI could not find anyone at the bureau who would accept their testimony and that it had not assigned any individual to accept or gather evidence.
“This was unique behavior in my experience, as the Bureau is usually amenable to information and evidence; but in this matter the shutters were closed, the drawbridge drawn up, and there was no point of entry by which members of the public or Congress could provide information to the FBI,” Whitehouse said.
Whitehouse noted that a “tip line” was created by the FBI, there was no explanation as to how the tips were reviewed. “This ‘tip line’ appears to have operated more like a garbage chute, with everything that came down the chute consigned without review to the figurative dumpster,” he said.
While it is unclear whether the FBI would re-open an investigation into Kavanaugh, who is now one of nine justices on the supreme court, the letter could push Garland to force the DOJ to respond to questions about the investigation into Kavanaugh.
Whitehouse said he is seeking answers about “how, why, and at whose behest” the FBI conducted a “fake” investigation if standard procedures were violated, including standards for following allegations gathered through FBI “tip lines”.