They don’t plan to investigate Kavanaugh now, is how WaPo phrases it. But given how incredibly high Kavanaugh’s public profile is, they’d naturally feel heavy pressure to investigate if they had any reason to believe there was something to the claims in the letter. Imagine the FBI standing down for the boss’s Supreme Court nominee on a matter as grave as sexual misconduct only to have it come out later that there was probable cause all along to believe something had happened. The last thing the Bureau needs at this point is another supercharged accusation of scandal and politicization, this time involving looking the other way at a sex offense to protect the president’s fair-haired boy.
Now try to imagine the political clusterfark involved in the House and Senate having to figure out later whether to impeach Kavanaugh as a justice because of new details about the incident that the FBI *could* have discovered if it had investigated right now, before he was confirmed. Far better for them that they vet this before he’s on the bench.
All of which makes me think there isn’t anything there.
According to a person familiar with the matter, the FBI does not now plan to launch a criminal investigation of the matter, which would normally be handled by local authorities, if it was within the statute of limitations. The FBI instead passed the material to the White House, as an update to Kavanaugh’s background check, which already had been completed, the person said. The move is similar to what the bureau did when allegations were leveled against former White House aide Rob Porter.
An FBI official said, “Upon receipt of the information on the night of September 12, we included it as part of Judge Kavanaugh’s background file, as per the standard process.”
Errrrr, Rob Porter as the key precedent here doesn’t fill me with confidence. And you can, of course, argue the other way about the FBI’s incentives. Opening an investigation into the nominee over something as inflammatory as a sexual episode would instantly throw the confirmation into doubt, probably decisively tilt public opinion against Kavanaugh, and at a minimum force a delay that might drag on for months and into the next (Democratic-controlled?) Senate. Even if he were later cleared, the mere fact that a probe had been launched would raise enough doubt about him in enough people’s minds to lead many to conclude that the Senate should reject him. Why roll the dice on a guy who might have been guilty of a serious crime, they would reason, when there are a thousand other eminently qualified judges with no personal blemishes who can sit on the Supreme Court instead? Punting the investigation over to the White House is the less politicized option for the FBI under the circumstances, one might say.
Remember this, though: This isn’t Kavanaugh’s first rodeo. He worked for Ken Starr. He worked in the Bush White House. He was first nominated to the appellate bench in 2003. His nomination there stalled for three whole years until he was finally confirmed. Democrats have had very good reason to want to take this guy out for fully 20 years. Even when he was an obscure lawyer working in Starr’s office, the left would have relished blowing up one of Starr’s guys with a serious sexual allegation as payback for Starr’s investigation of Bill Clinton. The episode described in Feinstein’s letter allegedly involves something that happened when Kavanaugh was in high school, meaning that it’s been sitting out there for the entirety of his professional career. And somehow, not until he’s two weeks removed from being confirmed to the Supreme Court, did it finally come out.
That’s strange, don’t you think? It’s possible that there are good reasons for it: The lesson of #MeToo is that it often takes years for women to report how a powerful man abused them, so fearful are they of the revenge he might take on them for doing so. But even so — strange. Especially given the strong support and encouragement the woman mentioned in Feinstein’s letter would have received from Democrats if she had accused Kavanaugh at any point since 1998.
The whole thing reeks of a political hit, an egregious smear. Although…
That’s just a rumor, but hoo boy. Trump might want to dial up Amy Coney Barrett and touch base, just in case.
Update: Need to hear more. I could imagine this feeling threatening if they locked her in the room with them, but if they locked her in the room by herself then it was almost certainly a prank. Either way, who’s going to bork this guy for something that happened in high school when no assault is being alleged?
A source who said they were briefed on the contents of the letter said it described an incident involving Kavanaugh and a woman that took place when both were 17 years old and at a party. According to the source, Kavanaugh and a male friend had locked her in a room against her will, making her feel threatened, but she was able to get out of the room. The Guardian has not verified the apparent claims in the letter. It is not yet clear who wrote it.