Fox News sources: FBI won't criminally investigate Ford's accusation against Kavanaugh

Why would they? In the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill matter, the dispute involved inappropriate workplace behavior at two federal agencies. The FBI would understandably be interested in that. In this case the dispute involves a sex crime committed in Montgomery County, Maryland. Why aren’t Ford, her lawyer, and the Democrats demanding that Maryland police investigate instead?

If you’re thinking “statute of limitations,” nope. Under Maryland law, attempted rape can be prosecuted at any time.

Insisting that the FBI act here is one of the reasons Republicans, I think, that suspect that the demand for an investigation is a delay tactic. If you’re not calling on the law enforcement agency with criminal jurisdiction over the matter to take this up, how serious are you about it? It’s weird that Ford hasn’t made a demand of Maryland police given that (a) it’s a Democratic state, where most of the government is presumably rooting for Kavanaugh to be borked, and (b) it has a Republican governor who’s facing reelection in two months and might support the call for an investigation. No doubt Maryland police would take the matter seriously, not wanting to be seen as insensitive to alleged victims in such a high-profile case.

The FBI will not launch a criminal investigation into the sexual assault allegations leveled against President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh, according to highly-placed law enforcement sources.

The sources told Fox News on Wednesday that there were no allegations of a federal crime, therefore the bureau would not open a criminal investigation…

“It’s totally inappropriate for someone to demand we use law enforcement resources to investigate a 35-year-old allegation when she won’t go under oath and can’t remember key details including when or where it happened,” another source told Fox News.

An important distinction: Just because the feds won’t launch a criminal investigation of the matter doesn’t mean they can’t launch a background investigation of it. The former would attempt to determine whether probable cause exists to believe a crime was committed; given how thin the evidence is, the result would almost certainly be “no.” That probably explains why Ford and her lawyer aren’t making any requests of Maryland police. A background investigation, on the other hand, would attempt to determine whether there’s anything in Kavanaugh’s background that makes him a national security risk. The answer presumably is … also no, since any blackmail leverage arising from the alleged Ford incident is gone now that the incident’s been made public.

The White House *could* order a follow-up background check of Kavanaugh. That’s what Bush 41 did in 1991 when he instructed the FBI to sniff around the Thomas/Hill matter. They did interviews for three days and presented what they gathered. To some extent the Senate Judiciary Committee is prepared to perform that function itself by interviewing Ford and Kavanaugh on Monday, assuming they show up. But they’re not calling Mark Judge or Patrick Smyth or Ford’s therapist or anyone else to testify who might potentially have information on the matter; the FBI presumably would attempt to speak to all of those people, although how long it would take to contact all relevant witnesses is anyone’s guess.

McConnell and Grassley have obviously made a judgment that they’re prepared to make some accommodation in the schedule for Ford to testify but not to postpone the hearing indefinitely for fact-finding given how the Democrats’ handling of this matter reeks of a desperate delay tactic. If Schumer’s team wanted extensive fact-finding on Ford’s claim, they had two months plus three full days of confirmation hearings to bring it up. Allowing an open-ended investigation now, after a last-minute accusation before the big vote, would invite partisans to pull this on every nominee going forward.

As for how Senate Republicans on the Judiciary Committee might fare in questioning Ford in lieu of the FBI, expect a lot of this on Monday night:

I think Mark Judge and Patrick Smyth should testify, but I also think that maybe the reason the Committee wants to hear in person from Ford is because … she’s the one leveling a career-destroying charge of rape against a sitting judge, not because she’s of the Bad Gender. No one’s claiming that Kavanaugh should be allowed to skip the hearing and phone in his denial, are they?

If you missed it, HuffPost claims that Grassley and his GOP colleagues are so anxious about the coming attacks on a group of 11 conservative men (white men, heaven forbid) questioning a woman over a rape allegation that they might ask women staffers to step in and lead the questioning instead. Show of hands, women staffers: Who wants to volunteer and be forever branded by the Lords of Tolerance as a gender traitor for doing the basic work of vetting a criminal allegation that might change the course of American history?

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