No sooner had Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona announced that he planned to vote for the confirmation of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court than he declared, on September 28, that his support of President Donald Trump’s nominee was conditional: Flake requested a limited, one-week investigation of the sexual abuse allegations that Palo Alto University psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford had made against Kavanaugh at her September 27 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. But truth be told, the FBI investigation being conducted this week is unlikely to change the outcome of the nomination. If anything, it is a public relations ploy designed to give the so-called “undecided” Republicans in the Senate—namely, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski and Maine’s Susan Collins—an excuse to vote for Kavanaugh. And more than likely, Kavanaugh’s confirmation will be rammed through the Senate despite all the sexual abuse allegations being made against him.
Here are five reasons why the FBI investigation of Kavanaugh being conducted this week is a joke and a sham.
1. The Investigation Is Brief and Superficial, Not Comprehensive
The FBI investigation of Kavanaugh taking place this week isn’t meant to be a criminal investigation like the Russia-related investigation that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has been conducting. It is meant to be more of a background check, and the standards that apply in the Supreme Court nomination/confirmation process are much different from the standards that apply in a criminal trial. But even as a background check, the FBI’s Kavanaugh-related investigation has been a joke. A week isn’t nearly enough time for the FBI to seriously investigate Kavanaugh’s history and all the allegations being made against him.
2. The Investigation Gives ‘Undecided’ Senators an Excuse to Vote for Kavanaugh
For supposedly “undecided” Republicans like Flake, Collins and Murkowski—and possibly, Blue Dog Senate Democrats such as West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp as well—the FBI’s investigation is the best of both worlds. An investigation this brief and superficial is unlikely to produce any startling new revelations, but it will still give Flake, Collins and Murkowski a chance to claim that Kavanaugh was subjected to FBI scrutiny and passed with flying colors. Manchin and Heitkamp, both of whom voted for the confirmation of Trump’s first Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, in 2017 and are seeking reelection in the 2018 midterms, will likely make the same claim and join Flake, Collins and Murkowski in a “yes” vote for Kavanaugh. But in reality, the FBI scrutiny being applied to Kavanaugh this week is cursory at best.
3. The FBI Should Have an In-Depth Conversation with Julie Swetnick
Christine Blasey Ford is not the only woman who has made sexual abuse allegations against Kavanaugh. Deborah Ramirez, his second accuser, alleges that when she became intoxicated at a Yale University dorm party in the early 1980s and was lying on the floor, Kavanaugh placed his penis in front of her face—and the allegations of Kavanaugh’s third accuser, Julie Swetnick, are even more disturbing. Swetnick, a client of attorney Michael Avenatti, alleges that Kavanaugh helped organize parties where women were drugged and gangraped, including herself in 1982. Given the severity of Swetnick’s allegations, the FBI should have a long, in-depth conversation with her. But on Tuesday, October 2, Avenatti complained that Swetnick had yet to hear from the FBI.
4. This Is an Investigation on Trump and Don McGahn’s Terms
Trump, on Twitter, has insisted that the White House isn’t imposing any limitations on the FBI’s Kavanaugh-related probe. But in reality, the terms of the investigation are being dictated by Kavanaugh’s allies—namely, Trump and White House Counsel Don McGahn. Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler has warned that if a real investigation doesn’t occur, Democrats will need to conduct a Kavanaugh-related probe of their own if they regain control of the House of Representatives on Tuesday, November 6.
5. Potentially Valuable Tips Are Being Ignored
Tad Low is a 52-year-old New York City resident who attended Yale University during the same period of time as Kavanaugh and offered the FBI a potentially valuable tip—and when he spoke to the New York Daily News on October 1, Low asserted that the FBI had been giving him the runaround. Low alleges that during the 1987/1988 academic year, he witnessed something “shocking” at a party held by Kavanaugh’s fraternity, Delta Kappa Epsilon. In a real investigation of Kavanaugh, the FBI would be taking a very close look at Low’s allegation—not giving him the runaround.
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