As tensions flared Wednesday on Capitol Hill, senators prepared to read the FBI’s supplemental background check on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh regarding Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation that he sexually assaulted her 36 years ago when both were in high school.
A paper copy was delivered to the White House and another to Capitol Hill Wednesday night, and senators will begin reading the report Thursday morning.
Earlier Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a speech on the Senate floor that he and his colleagues were being harassed.
“One of our colleagues and his family were effectively run out of a restaurant in recent days,” McConnell said. “Another reported having protesters physically block his car door. And some have seen organized far-left protesters camp out at their homes.”
Fox News reported an increased police presence was visible Wednesday, with officers protecting Republican senators coming and going from their offices.
The FBI, which has not been commissioned to provide analysis, delivered essentially a stack of “302s,” the forms it produces that summarize interviews.
All 100 senators and 10 staff members of the Senate Judiciary Committee will be permitted to read the report. Republican senators said the file will be held in the Senate SCIF (Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility), the classified area of the Capitol Visitor’s Center.
McConnell has said only senators would see the FBI’s report, but Majority Whip Sen. John Cornyn has said he wants some “sense” of it to be disclosed, and Lindsey Graham wants the full report to be published.
Late Wednesday night, the majority leader filed a motion to stop debate on the Kavanaugh nomination on Wednesday, setting up a final confirmation vote Saturday.
According to Senate rules, a vote can take place no sooner than 30 hours after debate ceases, unless senators unanimously agree otherwise.
Because of the precedent set by then-Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in 2013, 60 votes no longer are needed to prevent a filibuster and move to a final vote. With Reid having “triggered the nuclear option” to advance three Obama nominees to the D.C. Circuit, where Kavanaugh is a judge, McConnell last year “went nuclear” himself, changing the rules to confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.
Republicans hold a 51-49 majority and can lose only one vote. Vice President Mike Pence would break a 50-50 tie. Flake and Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine have said they want to see the FBI’s report before deciding whether or not they will confirm Kavanaugh.
Two Democrats up for re-election in states Trump won in 2016 also are said to be possible votes for Kavanaugh, Sens. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
Attorneys for Ford have complained their client has not been contacted by the FBI for interview, although she gave lengthy testimony last Thursday to the Senate Judiciary Committee followed the questioning of senators and an independent prosecutor hired by the Republicans.
“It is inconceivable that the FBI could conduct a thorough investigation of Dr. Ford’s allegations without interviewing her, Judge Kavanaugh, or the witnesses we have identified in our letters to you,” Ford attorneys Debra Katz and Michael Bromwich wrote to FBI Director Christopher Wray.
A lawyer for a second accuser, Deborah Ramirez, who claims without corroboration that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a party, also questioned the FBI probe.
John Clune told Bloomberg, “We have great concern that the FBI is not conducting — or not being permitted to conduct — a serious investigation.”
The FBI investigation and one-week delay was prompted by Republican Sen. Jeff Flake’s decision to make it a condition of his vote before the full Senate. He declared his intentions before becoming the 11th and deciding vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee last Friday to recommend Kavanaugh to the Senate.
The Washington Post reported the FBI has interviewed three people whom Ford alleges were at a party where the alleged attack took place.
All three have stated they do not recall the gathering: Patrick J. Smyth, Mark Judge and Leland Keyser, a lifelong friend of Ford. Lawyers for Smyth and Keyser have confirmed their clients gave the same testimony to FBI agents.
Tuesday morning, Judge’s lawyer, Barbara Van Gelder, said her client had completed the interview with the FBI but did not offer details. Keyser has said that while she believes Ford, she does not remember the gathering.
“Ms. Keyser does not refute Dr. Ford’s account, and she has already told the press that she believes Dr. Ford’s account,” wrote attorney Howard Walsh, CNN reported.
“However, the simple and unchangeable truth is that she is unable to corroborate it because she has no recollection of the incident in question.”
The FBI also has spoken with two Kavanaugh friends who show up on the calendar that was presented as evidence of his activities during the summer of 1982, when Ford claims the alleged attack took place.
Kavanaugh indicated Tim Gaudette and Chris Garrett, who Ford said she dated, were at a July 1 party to which Democratic senators have drawn attention.
At the White House press briefing Wednesday, Sarah Sanders was asked whether or not the White House has blocked the FBI from talking to Ford.
She argued the nation heard from her “for hours” and emphasized the FBI “has been given free range,” insisting “we’re not micromanaging anything.”