Grassley claims nothing new in FBI report, as senators review single copy of findings

Senators review FBI findings on Kavanaugh

Last Updated Oct 4, 2018 10:23 AM EDT

The FBI investigation that delayed a confirmation vote on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is finished. The much-anticipated report on the sexual assault allegations against the judge was delivered to the Senate overnight where the final vote is now planned for Saturday.

To reduce the chance of leaks for the high-interest document, there is just one copy available to senators in a secure room in the basement of the Capitol normally reserved for sensitive national security briefings. Senators are viewing the FBI report in one-hour increments.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, claimed the report reveals no "contemporaneous evidence" of the allegations against Kavanaugh. 

Grassley claimed that, "neither the Judiciary Committee nor the FBI could locate any third parties who can attest to any of the allegations. There's also no contemporaneous evidence."

"I've now received a committee staff briefing on the FBI's supplement to Judge Kavanaugh's background investigation file," Grassley said. "There's nothing in it that we didn't already know. These uncorroborated accusations have been unequivocally and repeatedly rejected by Judge Kavanaugh, and neither the Judiciary Committee nor the FBI could locate any third parties who can attest to any of the allegations. There's also no contemporaneous evidence. This investigation found no hint of misconduct and the same is true of the six prior FBI background investigations conducted during Judge Kavanaugh's 25 years of public service."

Republicans and Democrats are taking turns viewing the findings, which will summarize interviews with at least five high school friends of Kavanaugh and Ford. The goal: to shed light on Ford's accusation that Kavanaugh pinned her down and groped her in 1982.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the White House sees no corroboration of the allegations denied by the nominee.

"There will be plenty of time for members to review and be briefed on the supplemental material before a Friday cloture vote," said Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

"If I were king for a day, I'd say it needs to be made public," said Sen. John Kennedy, R-La.  
 
As of Wednesday, the FBI had not interviewed Ford or Kavanaugh themselves, along with more than a dozen people proposed by Ford's lawyers.

Overnight, the New Yorker reported that frustrated witnesses wanting to speak to the FBI about other allegations against Kavanaugh were ignored. Deborah Ramirez, who alleges Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a Yale party, was interviewed by the FBI, but she told the New Yorker: "People who were key to corroborating my story have not been contacted… I feel like I'm being silenced."

Kavanaugh has denied all the claims against him.

The White House was working to tamp down another fire caused by the president's comments about Ford Tuesday night during a Mississippi rally.

"How did you get home? 'I don't remember.' How'd you get there? 'I don't remember,'" Trump said. "Upstairs, downstairs, where was it? 'I don't know, but I had one beer!'"

His aides insisted President Trump wasn't mocking Ford – just relaying information.
 
"She's been treated like a Faberge egg by all of us, beginning with me and the president. He's pointing out factual inconsistencies," said Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president.
 
But that's not how some senators saw it, including Republicans.
 
"The president's comment were just plain wrong," said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.
 
"His mockery of Dr. Ford last night in Mississippi was wrong, but it doesn't really surprise anyone," said Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb.

Wednesday night on the Senate floor, Sasse praised Kavanaugh's record, but said he had advised the White House to pick a woman for the Supreme Court.

"I will say that I urged the president back in June and early July to make a different choice before he announced this nomination," Sasse said.

In a statement, Ford's attorney said an FBI supplemental background investigation that did not include an interview with Ford "cannot be called an investigation" and they are "profoundly disappointed." Republicans argue Ford had her say when she testified on Capitol Hill last week.