Judge Brett Kavanaugh is expected to be confirmed this weekend. On Friday, less than two days after the conclusion of a FBI background investigation into the sexual misconduct claims against him, the Senate passed a procedural motion allowing for the final confirmation vote this weekend. With support from Sens. Susan Collins and Jeff Flake, Republicans have enough votes to make the embattled nominee the Supreme Court’s next associate justice.
Kavanaugh is an historically unpopular candidate: A recent poll says about 48% of U.S. voters oppose Kavanaugh. The allegations against him, which he has denied, include sexual assault, attempted rape, exposing himself, and thrusting his penis in someone’s face without their consent.
In the aftermath of his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee and that of his accuser Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, Republican Sen. Jeff Flake forced Republicans and the White House to order an FBI background investigation “limited in scope and completed in less than one week.”
The FBI sent the report to the White House late Wednesday. On Thursday morning, senators and a select number of aides began reviewing one copy of the report stored at a secured facility. The Trump administration already came out publicly saying that they still stand by Kavanaugh. Democrats and other progressives have been concerned that the probe, for which neither Kavanaugh nor Dr. Ford were interviewed, was rushed and too narrow.
Kavanaugh himself has not been too worried about the probe: Harvard Law students learned this week that he withdrew from teaching a course next semester, a move that seemed to point out he expects to be confirmed to the Supreme Court despite the allegations against him.
Below, the latest developments of the Kavanaugh saga. We’ll continue to update this story as we see fit.
Kavanaugh will likely be confirmed this weekend.
Shortly after the FBI ended his investigation Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell filed a motion to invoke “cloture” — a procedural vote — on Kavanaugh’s nomination.
On Friday, the motion passed 51-49, paving the way for 30 hours of debate. Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin and Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Jeff Flake, previously undecided, announced they’ll vote for Kavanaugh. Sen. Lisa Murkowski broke rank and said she won’t. Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin remains undecided.
With Collins, Manchin, and Flake on board, Kavanaugh will be confirmed barring some shocking last-minute developments.
McConnell had announced his intentions to push for a vote earlier this week, despite not knowing what the investigation could find. “The time for endless delay and obstruction has come to a close,” McConnell said Monday, apparently forgetting about how he blocked the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland — President Obama’s moderate pick to fill the seat left by the late Justice Antonin Scalia — for 293 days. “We’ll be voting this week.”
The FBI interviewed just nine people.
The New York Times reports that the FBI was “plowing through interviews.” Neither Kavanaugh nor Ford were interviewed by investigators. In a statement, Ford’s legal team said: “An FBI supplemental background investigation that did not include an interview of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford — nor the witnesses who corroborate her testimony — cannot be called an investigation. We are profoundly disappointed that after the tremendous sacrifice she made in coming forward, those directing the FBI investigation were not interested in seeking the truth.”
According to NBC News and the New Yorker, dozens of people with possible information relevant to the investigation have not even been contacted by the FBI or were ignored after reaching out to the agency.
Two acquaintances who knew Kavanaugh in high school submitted sworn declarations to the FBI and senators, according to the New Yorker. One of them read: “The reason I decided to come forward and share my interactions with Brett Kavanaugh is that Brett Kavanaugh’s presentation of himself as some honorable and nice person who always respected girls in high school and who was a moderate drinker could not be farther from the truth.”
Attorney Michael Avenatti, who is representing Kavanaugh accuser Julie Swetnick, told Refinery29 his client was not contacted by the FBI. “It appears to be a farce and a sham,” Avenatti said of the investigation. “How do you do an investigation and not talk to at least all of the accusers?”
Kavanaugh’s alcohol use came into focus again through several news reports.
The New York Times reported Kavanaugh was involved in a bar altercation in September 1985 that ended up with him and four other men being questioned by the New Haven Police Department. Kavanaugh, then a 21-year-old junior at Yale, reportedly threw ice at another patron while one of his friends threw a glass at the man.
Several former classmates of Kavanaugh have said he drank heavily in his youth and became “aggressive and belligerent when he was very drunk.” Others have claimed he likely blacked out.
In a handwritten letter from 1983 obtained by the Times, Kavanaugh wrote of his clique of friends’ hard partying ways. “… Warn the neighbors that we’re loud, obnoxious drunks with prolific pukers among us. Advise them to go about 30 miles,” Kavanaugh wrote in the letter. He signed the letter “FFFFF, Bart.”
During his confirmation hearing, the Supreme Court nominee denied to the Senate Judiciary Committee that he ever drank to the point of blacking out.
Kavanaugh reportedly tried to discredit his second accuser prior to her story becoming public.
Kavanaugh testified under oath that he didn’t knew about the Deborah Ramirez allegations against him until the New Yorker published its story. But NBC News reported Monday that Kavanaugh and his team communicated with former Yale classmates Kerry Berchem and Karen Yarasavage prior to the publication of the story, asking them to go on-the-record and discredit Ramirez’s claims.
Berchem also wrote a memo to the FBI, in which she alleges Kavanaugh “and/or” his allies “may have initiated an anticipatory narrative” as early as July, a full two months before the publication of the New Yorker article, in an attempt to “conceal or discredit” Ramirez and her story.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call theRAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
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