Dem vows to probe 'why the FBI stood down' on Kavanaugh

Dem vows to probe 'why the FBI stood down' on Kavanaugh
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Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseNew battle lines in war over Trump’s judicial picks Dems probing whether NRA made illegal contributions to Trump Senate panel advances Trump's pick for key IRS role MORE (D-R.I.) vowed Thursday that if Democrats take control of the House or Senate in November they would launch a probe into the FBI's handling of sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Whitehouse said during an interview on CNN's "The Lead" that Democrats would “get to the bottom” of what happened between Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford at a high school party in the early 1980s where Ford claims Kavanaugh assaulted her.

Kavanaugh has strongly denied the allegations after Ford came forward on Sunday, and both have indicated that they are willing to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee sometime next week.

“I think we’ll also be investigating why the FBI stood down its background investigation when it came up in this particular background,” Whitehouse said on CNN.

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“It’s particularly preposterous in this case when you have an FBI background investigation, and this is part of this guy’s background, and they’ve suddenly decided they’re going to halt the background investigation? It makes no sense, and it is appalling practice from a victim-witness point of view,” he added. 

Whitehouse on Thursday joined seven other Democratic senators, who have previously served as prosecutors, in calling for an FBI investigation into Ford’s allegations.

The allegations have put the FBI at the center of political controversy, with Democrats pushing for the bureau to reopen its background check investigation into Kavanaugh, whom President TrumpDonald John TrumpBill Kristol resurfaces video of Pence calling Obama executive action on immigration a 'profound mistake' ACLU says planned national emergency declaration is 'clear abuse of presidential power' O'Rourke says he'd 'absolutely' take down border wall near El Paso if he could MORE nominated in July to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. 

The White House could direct the bureau to reopen its background check into Kavanaugh following new information, though Trump has appeared reluctant to do so.

“I don’t think the FBI really should be involved because they don’t want to be involved,” the president told reporters Tuesday while reaffirming his support for Kavanaugh.

Republicans, meanwhile, have said Kavanaugh and Ford should come before the Judiciary Committee. Ford on Thursday opened the door to testifying next week under certain terms, though her lawyer has said she won't appear for a hearing on Monday as requested by the GOP.

“The Constitution assigns the Senate, and only the Senate, with the task of advising the president on his nominees and consenting if the circumstances merit,” Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleySenate approves border bill that prevents shutdown Grassley raises voice after McConnell interrupts Senate speech Senate confirms Trump pick William Barr as new attorney general MORE (R-Iowa) wrote in a letter to Democrats on the panel. “The job of assessing and investigating a nominee’s qualifications in order to decide whether to consent to the nomination is ours, and ours alone.”

Democrats have noted that the FBI investigated Anita Hill’s allegations against then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas in 1991. 

“That decision was praised by Republican senators including Sen. Hatch, who called it the ‘right thing to do,’ and the FBI finished its work in three days,” Democrats wrote recently, referring to Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchOrrin Hatch Foundation seeking million in taxpayer money to fund new center in his honor Mitch McConnell has shown the nation his version of power grab Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Utah Senate votes to scale back Medicaid expansion | Virginia abortion bill reignites debate | Grassley invites drug execs to testify | Conservative groups push back on e-cig crackdown MORE (R-Utah), one of three current Judiciary panel members who participated in Thomas’s confirmation hearings.

The Department of Justice put out a statement saying that the FBI “does not make any judgment about the credibility or significance of any allegation” and that the bureau’s role “is to provide information for the use of the decision makers.” 

Updated at 6:16 p.m.