Democrats criticize FBI's handling of tip line in Kavanaugh investigation

Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats are criticizing the FBI over its handling of the tip line in its investigation of the sexual misconduct allegations of now-Supreme Court Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughRepublicans keep distance from 'Justice for J6' rally Senators denounce protest staged outside home of Justice Kavanaugh Why isn't Harris leading the charge against the Texas abortion law? MORE.

The Democrats, led by Sens. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseDemocrats draw red lines in spending fight What Republicans should demand in exchange for raising the debt ceiling Climate hawks pressure Biden to replace Fed chair MORE (R.I.) and Chris CoonsChris Andrew CoonsBiden threatens more sanctions on Ethiopia, Eritrea over Tigray conflict Senate Democrats to Garland: 'It's time to end the federal death penalty' Hillicon Valley: Cryptocurrency amendment blocked in Senate | Dems press Facebook over suspension of researchers' accounts | Thousands push back against Apple plan to scan US iPhones for child sexual abuse images MORE (Del.), wrote a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray on Wednesday seeking answers after the agency revealed it gathered more than 4,500 tips in relation to its investigation of the claims against Kavanaugh.

The lawmakers wrote that revelation “confirms that the FBI’s tip line was a departure from past practice and that the FBI was politically constrained by the Trump White House.”

ADVERTISEMENT

“It also belies the former president’s insistence that his administration did not limit the Bureau’s investigation of Justice Kavanaugh, and his claim that he ‘want[ed] the FBI to interview whoever they [sic] deem appropriate, at their discretion’,” the lawmakers said.

Assistant FBI Director Jill Tyson wrote to Whitehouse and Coons on June 30, revealing how many tips the agency received as part of the investigation.

Tyson was responding to an August 2019 inquiry, in which Whitehouse and Coons raised concerns that the White House had set limits on the probe.

Tyson said Kavanaugh’s nomination was the first the time the FBI had set up a tip line for a nominee undergoing Senate confirmation. She said all “relevant tips” were referred to the Office of the White House Counsel.

It was unclear from Tyson’s letter if the FBI followed up on any of the tips.

ADVERTISEMENT

The lawmakers said Tuesday that the details “corroborate and explain numerous credible accounts” of people who said they contacted the FBI with information but were ignored.

“If the FBI was not authorized to or did not follow up on any of the tips that it received from the tip line, it is difficult to understand the point of having a tip line at all,” they wrote.

Kavanaugh was confirmed in October 2018 despite multiple allegations of sexual misconduct against him, which he has denied.

Christine Blasey Ford gave sworn Senate testimony saying that Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed and tried to remove her clothes when they were in high school. Other women later spoke out against him.

Whitehouse and Coons were joined by Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durban (D-Ill.), Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyPhotos of the Week: Renewable energy, gymnast testimonies and a Met Gala dress Senators denounce protest staged outside home of Justice Kavanaugh Al Franken on another Senate run: 'I'm keeping my options open' MORE (D-Vt.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoSenate Democrats to Garland: 'It's time to end the federal death penalty' Democrats warn shrinking Biden's spending plan could backfire Hillicon Valley: Facebook tightens teen protections | FBI cautions against banning ransomware payments | Republicans probe White House-social media collaboration MORE (D-Hawaii), and Cory BookerCory BookerDOJ announces agencywide limits on chokeholds and no-knock entries Fighting poverty, the Biden way Top Senate Democrats urge Biden to take immediate action on home confinement program MORE (D-N.J.)