01:50 GMT21 April 2021
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    Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed as an associate Supreme Court justice by one of the slimmest margins in October 2018, months after the Washington, DC-native was nominated by former US President Donald Trump. Kavanaugh’s confirmation proceedings were riddled with controversy after allegations surfaced that he had sexually assaulted a former classmate.

    US Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) recently raised questions about the authenticity of the FBI’s background investigation into Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, alleging that the agency carried out a “politically-constrained and perhaps fake” probe. 

    Whitehouse, who serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee, raised the issue in a letter sent to newly confirmed US Attorney General Merrick Garland last Thursday, and requested that the official carry out a “proper oversight” into the bureau’s 2018 investigation into the sexual misconduct allegations that consumed the then-Supreme Court nominee.

    Kavanaugh’s nomination was initially placed in jeopardy after a former classmate, Christine Blasey Ford, accused the now-justice of having sexually assaulted her when the pair were still in high school. At the time, Blasey Ford was 15 and Kavanaugh was 17 when they met at a house party. 

    Although additional allegations surfaced from other women, only Blasey Ford was allowed to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Kavanaugh repeatedly denied all accusations when he appeared before the Senate panel.

    Christine Blasey Ford is sworn in to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018.
    © AP Photo / Saul Loeb
    Christine Blasey Ford is sworn in to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018.

    A subsequent investigation into the allegations were heavily criticized by Democrats who saw the probe as a sham, since the bureau failed to contact multiple witnesses who had corroborating evidence. Investigators had also dropped the ball when it came to looking into additional allegations that had involved Kavanaugh in his youth.

    “Some of these allegations were brought to the attention of committee members on behalf of witnesses who had ‘tried in vain to reach the FBI on their own,’ but could find no one at the Bureau willing to accept their testimony,” Whitehouse wrote. “When members made inquiries we faced the same experience: the FBI had assigned no person to accept or gather evidence.”

    “This was unique behavior in my experience, as the Bureau is usually amenable to information and evidence; but in this matter the shutters were closed, the drawbridge drawn up, and there was no point of entry by which members of the public or Congress could provide information to the FBI. Senator Coons asked for a clear procedure at the time, to no avail,” he continued.

    The bureau did later launch a so-called “tip line” for individuals to relay any information regarding the case; however, the effort was ineffective. “When allegations flowed in through that ‘tip line,’ we received no explanation of how, or whether, those allegations were processed and evaluated,” Whitehouse recalled.

    “This ‘tip line’ appears to have operated more like a garbage chute, with everything that came down the chute consigned without review to the figurative dumpster,” he went on to conclude.

    Whitehouse also blasted FBI Director Christopher Wray for failing to answer congressional questions about the investigation, noting that “such stonewalling does not inspire confidence in the integrity of the investigation.”

    The US Department of Justice has confirmed that it is reviewing the contents of Whitehouse’s correspondence, but did not offer further details when contacted by The Hill. The Justice Department previously defended the FBI investigation into Kavanaugh, stating that its procedures were in line with its practices to ensure a nominee does not pose a national security risk.

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    Tags:
    Christine Blasey Ford, Brett Kavanaugh, Sheldon Whitehouse, FBI, US Senate Judiciary Committee
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