Senate GOP expects FBI report by Wednesday afternoon

Senate Republican leaders expect the FBI to provide its supplementary background report on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Wednesday and to vote on the nominee Friday or Saturday.

Senate Republican Conference Chairman John ThuneJohn Randolph ThunePolls: Hiking estate tax less popular than taxing mega wealth, income Will Trump sign the border deal? Here's what we know Key GOP senator pitches Trump: Funding deal a 'down payment' on wall MORE (S.D.) said after a GOP conference lunch meeting that senators are expected to get the report Wednesday afternoon.


“The leader’s assumption, and I assume he knows more about this than the rest of us, is that it’s coming today,” Thune said, referring to the expectations of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Energy: Trump ends talks with California on car emissions | Dems face tough vote on Green New Deal | Climate PAC backing Inslee in possible 2020 run Poll: 33% of Kentucky voters approve of McConnell Five takeaways from McCabe’s allegations against Trump MORE (R-Ky.).

Thune said that would set up a Friday cloture vote to end debate on Kavanaugh.

A second Republican senator, who requested anonymity to talk about internal discussions, said the plan is to hold the cloture vote on Friday.

The lawmaker said he expects McConnell to file a motion Wednesday to end debate on the nominee, which would give senators time to review the FBI report while procedural time runs off the clock.

Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerSasse’s jabs at Trump spark talk of primary challenger RNC votes to give Trump 'undivided support' ahead of 2020 Sen. Risch has unique chance to guide Trump on foreign policy MORE (R-Tenn.) separately told reporters that it's "likely" to be handed over on Wednesday and Sen. Mike RoundsMarion (Mike) Michael RoundsGOP senator: Trump thinks funding deal is 'thin gruel' Lawmakers put Pentagon's cyber in their sights Endorsing Trump isn’t the easiest decision for some Republicans MORE (R-S.D.) said Republican senators "expected" that the FBI would be able to give them the report later Wednesday. 

“That’s what we’re being told,” GOP Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonWhite House, GOP defend Trump emergency declaration GOP senator says Republicans didn't control Senate when they held majority GOP senator voices concern about Trump order, hasn't decided whether he'll back it MORE (Wis.) told reporters, asked if they expected the FBI would wrap up its work on Wednesday.

Senate rules require an intervening day to pass between when a GOP leader files a motion to end dilatory debate and when the Senate votes on the motion.

That means if McConnell files cloture to end debate on Kavanaugh on Wednesday evening, the vote could take place Friday.

If he waits until Thursday morning, the Senate could vote on cloture one hour after the end of the day Friday, at 1:01 a.m. Saturday. The rules require a vote take place at least one hour after the chamber convenes on the second day.

McConnell vowed on Monday that the Senate would vote on Kavanaugh this week.

“The time for endless delay and obstruction has come to a close,” he said on the floor. “We’ll be voting this week.”

He reiterated Wednesday that the Senate would vote on Kavanaugh this week.

"The FBI is finishing up a supplemental background investigation. ... Then, pursuant to last week’s agreement of a delay no longer than one week, the Senate will vote on this nomination this week," he said from the Senate floor. 

The FBI was tasked last week with investigating several sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh, whose nomination has been stuck in limbo.

Under the original one-week timeline, the bureau has until Friday to finish its investigation but Republicans had been hopeful they would finish their work early enabling them to stick to their timeline of voting on Kavanaugh by the end of the week.

Senators aren't expecting the FBI to release findings or a determination as part of its investigation. Instead, they expect the bureau to turn over notes and transcripts, which would then be available for senators to review ahead of a vote. 

"What we think is going to happen is they're going to transmit a stack of 302s where they went and talked to people. ... My understanding is they're just going to send raw data," Corker said.

Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.) said the FBI report will be disseminated to lawmakers through the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“It’s going to be given to the Judiciary Committee and senators will be invited to come by and read it,” he said.

Democrats and some moderate swing-vote Republicans voiced concerns earlier this week that the White House was trying to micromanage and limit the investigation. A member of the legal team for Christine Blasey Ford, Kavanaugh's first accuser, told The Hill after the Senate GOP caucus lunch on Wednesday that they had not heard from the FBI. 

But Republicans are hopeful that, absent a bombshell, the FBI report will help shore up GOP support for Kavanaugh, who remains short of the simple majority needed to be confirmed.

McConnell told reporters on Tuesday that the FBI's report will be available to be viewed by every senator but will not be released publicly, which is in line with how updates to background files are typically handled.

The issue has become a sticking point for Democrats, and some Republicans, who want at least part of the report or a summary of the report to be made public. Senators argue that otherwise the FBI's work will be selectively leaked and spun by both sides.

"I'm actually of the view that whatever could be made public here, should be. But that would be well outside the normal way these things are treated," Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean Blunt‘Contingency’ spending in 3B budget deal comes under fire GOP braces for Trump's emergency declaration The border deal: What made it in, what got left out MORE (R-Mo.) told reporters.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerGOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats National emergency declaration — a legal fight Trump is likely to win House Judiciary Dems seek answers over Trump's national emergency declaration MORE (D-N.Y.) acknowledged that releasing the FBI's report wasn't the "usual practice" but argued the circumstances around Kavanaugh's nomination meant it should be shared publicly.

"The findings of the FBI investigation upon completion should be released publicly with any personal information redacted. This is not the usual practice but it's been done in the past when it's needed, and it's sure needed now," he said.

Updated at 3:51 p.m.