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 WhitehouseDems ask if Trump aide Bill Shine is breaking ethics laws Senators want assurances from attorney general pick on fate of Mueller probe Dems vs. Trump: Breaking down the lawsuits against Whitaker 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 TrumpREAD: Transcript of James Comey's interview with House Republicans Klobuchar on 2020: ‘I do think you want voices from the Midwest’ Israel boycott fight roils Democrats in year-end spending debate 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 votes to end debate on criminal justice reform bill Five takeaways from the court decision striking down ObamaCare The Year Ahead: Tough tests loom for Trump trade agenda 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 HatchThe Hill's Morning Report — What a shutdown would mean for the government GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander won't seek reelection Hatch walks back remarks that he didn't 'care' if Trump broke the law 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.