WSJ: White House says FBI comes up empty in report on Kavanaugh

Game over? Maybe, but not the gameplaying. The FBI report on the supplemental background check is in the hands of the Senate, and The Wall Street Journal reports that the White House is confident that the report will settle matters for Kavanaugh’s confirmation. The FBI reportedly found no evidence for the allegations made by Christine Blasey Ford or Deborah Ramirez of sexual misconduct:

The White House has found no corroboration of the allegations of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh after examining interview reports from the FBI’s latest probe into the judge’s background, according to people familiar with the matter.

It was unclear whether the White House, which for weeks has raised doubts about the allegations, had completed its review of the FBI interview reports. …

Raj Shah, spokesman for the White House, said in a statement early Thursday morning: “The White House has received the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s supplemental background investigation into Judge Kavanaugh, and it is being transmitted to the Senate.”

He added that senators “have been given ample time to review this seventh background investigation.” Mr. Shah continued: “With this additional information, the White House is fully confident the Senate will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.”

Yesterday’s events all pointed to this conclusion. Late last night, Mitch McConnell set a Friday cloture vote for confirmation, even before receiving the FBI report. Earlier, Senate Judiciary Democrats (save Amy Klobuchar and Chris Coons) tried laying out a shabby, last-gasp, last-minute smear alleging that one of Kavanaugh’s earlier background checks had found an indication of a drinking problem or a sexual assault, even though no one had bothered to ever mention it before now. The combination of those two developments strongly suggested that the FBI hadn’t found anything on Kavanaugh — and that both sides knew it.

The White House transmitted the report to the Senate overnight. John Dickerson and the CBS This Morning crew discuss its status, as well as the coming pushback over its sufficiency:

We’ll have more on the public-relations plans of the Democrats later. The big question now is whether the report is sufficient for three people: Jeff Flake, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski. The latter two have been mainly silent on expectations, but Flake told CNN yesterday that the FBI only needed to focus on the Ford and Ramirez allegations, and not on Kavanaugh’s high school and college adventures with alcohol. If that’s the case, then this report should be good enough for the retiring Flake, and likely good enough for the other two Republicans who plan to continue their political careers. After getting the FBI probe they all endorsed, it would be very difficult for them to turn around and vote no when the report fails to substantiate any allegation against Kavanaugh. Why bother with the FBI at all?

If all three stick with Kavanaugh, then it seems likely that Joe Manchin will follow suit, and perhaps one or two other endangered red-state Democrats — Heidi Heitkamp needs the boost, and maybe Joe Donnelly too. They may not come along for cloture, but all McConnell needs tomorrow is 50 plus Mike Pence, if necessary.