Blame Senate, not FBI, for Kavanaugh travesty

Blame Senate, not FBI, for Kavanaugh travesty
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Not since Harry Houdini nearly ran out of air in a water-filled milk can has anyone been in a more difficult position. “No win” doesn’t begin to capture the FBI’s sudden status as the perceived validator of that which we’ve all just seen and heard offered publicly under oath.

This is the same FBI that has been trashed on both sides of the aisle in Congress and by the White House for two years as hopelessly biased. Now, suddenly, the bureau is the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. That is, of course, depending on whose political bias is supported in its latest investigative report. This was not bound to be received well, no matter what the FBI did.


And so the chorus of disappointment has started now that the report has been released to the Senate, cynically synthesized as “bullshit” by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), who this year beat corruption charges that could have sent him to prison for many years. You see, irony is completely lost on gross egoists. His trial ended in mistrial, but under the standards now being erected by his own party colleagues, the accusations alone should be sufficiently disqualifying for his seat. Oh, wait, what’s that you say? It’s only disqualifying for the judiciary, not the Senate where monstrous political behavior and antics are so culturally embedded that it would be unfair to levy standards of uprightness and statesmanship now? I see. Good point.

By the way, who are the several adult members of Congress accused of abusing young interns and who paid settlements with taxpayer money? That’s right, Congress still won’t tell us. Some leaks it is very good at preventing.

So what are the main emerging objections to the FBI investigation that was passionately demanded by the Senate to be conducted for at least one week?

  • The investigation was completed within one week. Obviously, not enough individuals were interviewed to increase the chances that good dirt would surface.  

In an FBI background investigation, or “BI,” there is no requirement to interview all who are identified as possible contributors. The purpose of a BI is to give decisionmakers, in this case, the president and the Senate, a sense of of the character (not qualifications) of the individual under consideration, reasonably sufficient to enable them to make an informed judgment. The gathered facts are reported objectively by the FBI. The results are filtered subjectively by the recipients. Nobody in Normaltown, USA, believes additional interviews are going to change any Senate minds.

The decision by the FBI to interview a set number of individuals, and no more, is primarily driven by an assessment that the information offered by others is not additive to what is already known and reported.  

A case in point: While some maintain that there are a few other women who stand ready to accuse Judge Brett Kavanaugh of bad behavior, there are also scores of women who know him well and have publicly and vigorously accused Kavanaugh of a lifetime of extreme decency. The FBI chose not to contact each for an interview, judging that the final report included representative documentation of their salutary assessments sufficient for the president and the Senate to make their own judgments.  

Would Menendez like all of those statements favorable to Judge Kavanaugh to be made part of the record? Likely not, since then he’d have to further demonstrate his articulate command of the language and keen argumentation skills.

  • The investigation was completed without interviewing Christine Blasey Ford or Kavanaugh.  

There are two good reasons for this. First, Ford and Kavanaugh provided and swore to a lengthy official statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee and subjected themselves to close questioning under oath. A BI interview, while carrying a burden to be truthful, is not sworn and would be logically redundant to that which already has been offered, by both, as an official record under oath.

Second, a decision not to interview is largely for the protection of both of them, since there is a large body of sworn statements they have uttered. If questioned closely by FBI agents and they offer information, even innocently, that appears to contradict what they’ve already stated under oath, it wouldn’t go well for them, legally or politically. If certain senators were hoping for the construction of a perjury trap by insisting on their interview, that’s not a proper or ethical role of the FBI in a background investigation.

Like it or not, a BI isn’t a “gotcha” process, like a criminal investigation could be. And for those who were hoping the FBI would investigate whether Ford was truly violated more than 30 years ago, they will have to direct their energies toward Montgomery County, Md., where proper criminal jurisdiction rests.

Perhaps most disheartening is that two lives have been carelessly trod upon by a group of politicians concerned, first and foremost, with hanging on to their personal power. No matter the outcome, when this is over, Ford will never get a phone call returned from anyone in Congress, and likely not even her lawyers. Her usefulness to dirty politics will have ended; hopefully, most importantly, it will not contribute to a sense of revictimization.

Judge Kavanaugh and his family, even if he is confirmed to the Supreme Court, will have the whispers of all of this for the rest of their lives. Mocked and ridiculed, based on assertion alone. Enduring parodies on TV from the clown class, and the shrill, angry posturing of classless politicians who boil down everything to the abortion issue.

Fortunately, in Normaltown, USA, outside of D.C., the true, crass, naked partisan reality of the Senate, which the members themselves so skillfully revealed in high def last week, is seen with crystal clarity. Those senators, comically, don’t think it’s noticed; they think they’re coming across as statesmen. We know they’re far from it: They’re users of real people for their own selfish, personal goals and advancement. That’s the real B.S. of all this.

'Tis a puzzle we keep voting for such low-living individuals.

Kevin R. Brock, former assistant director of intelligence for the FBI, was an FBI special agent for 24 years and principal deputy director of the National Counterterrorism Center. He is a founder and principal of NewStreet Global Solutions, which consults with private companies and public-safety agencies on strategic mission technologies.