So far, the Senate has managed to keep the FBI report on their supplemental background check of Brett Kavanaugh from leaking. Who knew Washington could keep a secret? Late last night, however, Senate Judiciary chair Chuck Grassley released the report’s executive summary, which only took one page to write. Their conclusion was even more terse:
INBOX: Sen. Grassley just emailed an executive summary of the FBI investigation report. It's concise enough to fit in one screenshot. pic.twitter.com/Ubuk3xaANk
— Steven Mazie (@stevenmazie) October 5, 2018
The Supplemental Background Investigation confirms what the Senate Judiciary Committee concluded after its investigation: there is no corroboration of the allegations made by Dr. Ford or Ms. Ramirez.
That’s not exactly news; both Republicans and Democrats agreed on that much. They differed on what it meant. Republicans insist this means that Kavanaugh’s been vindicated, and Democrats insist it means that the FBI didn’t interview enough people. The executive summary notes, however, that the FBI talked with the three other people named by Christine Blasey Ford, plus two others from Kavanaugh’s calendar to check out Sheldon Whitehouse’s July 1 theory. They also interviewed Deborah Ramirez, two “alleged eyewitnesses” she named, and her “close friend from college,” presumably a character witness. They got bupkis out of that, which is why the FBI brought the review to an end.
A few Democrats want the full report released, presumably to bolster their argument against the FBI’s work. However, this letter late yesterday from Grassley to Ford’s attorneys suggest that the probe may have turned up something significant on two Democrats on his committee — Dianne Feinstein and Maizie Hirono. Did they engage in back-channel negotiations with Ford’s legal team?
BREAKING: New SenGrassley letter to Ford legal team regarding dispute over turning over evidence. pic.twitter.com/5NRnaM6ozA
— Shannon Bream (@ShannonBream) October 5, 2018
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, wrote a letter to Christine Blasey Ford’s lawyers Thursday asking for records and descriptions of communications with the offices of Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Mazie Hirono “in light of recently uncovered information.”
The new request, revealed in a late-Thursday press release sent hours after senators got a chance to read the FBI’s report on its investigation into the sexual misconduct allegations levied against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, was coupled with Grassley’s third attempt to ask Ford’s attorneys Debra Katz, Michael Bromwich, and Lisa Banks to share evidence cited as part of their client’s claim she was sexually assaulted by the judge when they were teenagers. …
“In addition to the evidence I requested in my October 2 letter,” Grassley continued in his letter, “in light of recently uncovered information, please turn over records and descriptions of direct or indirect communications between Dr. Ford or her representatives and any of the following: (1) U.S. Senators or their staffs, particularly the offices of Senators Feinstein and Hirono, other than your communications with me and my staff in preparation for the September 27 hearing; (2) the alleged witnesses identified by Dr. Ford (Leland Keyser, Mark Judge, and Patrick “P.J.” Smyth); and (3) Debbie Ramirez, Julie Swetnick, or their representatives.”
He did not elaborate further on what “recently uncovered information” might be — the FBI’s file has not been released to the public.
It’s been long known that Feinstein had been in contact with Ford, and presumably her legal team as well. It’s one reason that suspicion on how Ford’s allegation leaked to the press has fallen mainly on her office, as well as Rep. Anna Eshoo, who first brought it to Feinstein. Until now, however, Hirono’s name has not come up as someone in contact with Ford. It calls into question Hirono’s curious non-denial when pressed about the leak on Sunday, Daniel Chaitin observes:
“All of these things do not focus on what we should be focusing on, which is the credibility of Judge Kavanaugh,” Hirono said during an interview with ABC News’ “This Week” when asked whether Democrats leaked Christine Blasey Ford’s confidential letter to her local congresswoman, in which she accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault when the two were in high school, to the press. She also deflected a question on whether Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee should have recommended Ford hire a lawyer associated with the party, Debra Katz.
Something tells me that this FBI report might be a secret kept by Washington a little longer than most.
Also, Grassley once again urged Ford’s attorneys to turn over her therapists’ noted and the polygraph recordings immediately to the committee. He once again rejected the demand from Ford’s attorneys to send the FBI to get them. “It’s not even clear to me what purpose turning over these materials to the FBI would accomplish,” Grassley wrote. “The FBI would simply turn over that evidence to the Senate.”
Furthermore, Grassley notes that the Senate can reasonably infer that a failure to provide the evidence means it doesn’t support the claims from Ford and her attorneys. “I don’t know what other inference we should draw from your refusal,” he warns, “but that the withheld evidence does not support Dr. Ford’s allegations in quite the way you have claimed.” That inference can be reasonably drawn by everyone at this point. If those notes and the polygraph corroborated Ford’s story, the committee would have had them for the hearing.