Here at Daily Kos, we all suffered through Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court, recalling his indignant behavior while questioned, especially as juxtaposed with Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s grace and clarity. We, too, likely recall that Donald Trump was relentless in pushing Kavanaugh's confirmation through. Recently, as Daily Kos covered, Michael Wolff revealed a conversation he supposedly had with Trump in his new book, Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump Presidency, in which Trump took credit for essentially “saving” Kavanaugh's life and expressed feeling disappointed in him in the end, saying he hasn’t had the “courage” to be a great justice.
This background lends an interesting light to a new report from The New York Times, in which fresh details on the FBI’s inquiry into Kavanaugh are causing serious—and legitimate—upset among some Senate Democrats. As covered by the Times, Jill Tyson, an assistant director at the FBI, wrote a letter to Democratic Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse and Chris Coons explaining that the most “relevant” of more than 4,000 tips the agency received while investigating Kavanaugh were actually passed on to White House lawyers in the Trump administration. It’s unclear how those tips were handled, and Senate Democrats want answers.
For background, the letter from Tyson was actually written in response to a letter sent by Whitehouse and Coons back in 2019, in which they wanted more clarity on how the supplemental background check into Kavanaugh actually went down. Tyson’s letter stressed that the agency did not conduct a criminal investigation, only a background check. To Democrats, the agency failed in its duty to fully investigate the allegations of sexual misconduct—from Ford as well as subsequent allegations from two women who accused him of sexual misconduct—during Kavanaugh’s confirmation process. Kavanaugh has denied all allegations.
On Wednesday, seven Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee replied to the letter asking for more information about how Trump’s White House handled the investigation and those thousand of tips. Democrats who signed on to the letter included Sens. Cory Booker, Dick Durbin, Richard Blumenthal, Patrick Leahy, Mazie Hirono, and, of course, Whitehouse and Coons.
Whitehouse spoke to the Times in an interview about the letter. Whitehouse told the Times Tyson’s response suggested the agency ran a “fake tip line” with responses never being “properly reviewed,” adding he assumed it was not even done in “good faith.”
In a letter the Democratic lawmakers sent on Wednesday, and which was released to the public on Thursday, they argued: “If the FBI was not authorized to or did not follow up on any of the tips that it received from the tip line, it is difficult to understand the point of having a tip line at all.”
As we know, neither Ford nor Kavanaugh were interviewed as part of the investigation. According to the Senate Judiciary Committee, the FBI ultimately interviewed just 10 people before closing its investigation. Democrats have long suggested the investigation into Kavanaugh was incomplete and politically contained.