- Senators are reading the FBI’s report on sexual-misconduct allegations against Brett Kavanaugh.
- Officials are seeking to keep its content secret: Senators are to share a single copy to read in a secure room in one-hour shifts.
- Sen. Dick Durbin called the process “bizarre,” and some senators have said they are pushing for more time with the report. Sen. Tammy Duckworth said the system was so “swamped” that some senators might not be able to read it until Friday.
- The report could influence whether senators vote to confirm Kavanaugh. A procedural vote is due Friday.
The FBI’s report on the sexual-misconduct allegations against the Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is now available for US senators to read.
But the lawmakers are required to share a single copy, reviewing it in one-hour shifts under intense security.
The FBI background report, compiled in just a few days, will inform senators ahead of a procedural vote, expected Friday, on whether to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination.
Officials are taking steps to prevent the public from learning the report’s contents.
Senators are to read the report in a guarded room inside the Capitol. They are doing so in one-hour shifts based on their party.
Republicans were to read for the first hour, starting at 8 a.m., before Democrats took over for an hour, with the process repeating, the Associated Press reported.
No copies will be made, meaning senators must visit the room to directly review its contents. This is standard practice for FBI background reports.
The report is confidential, so senators will be expected not to publicly repeat what they learn. Given the intense interest in the document, the possibility of some kind of leak is high.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, the Republican chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told reporters last week that “none of that stuff’s public.”
“If you want people to be candid when they talk to the FBI, you ain’t going to make that public,” he said.
Sen. Tammy Duckworth, a Democrat from Illinois, told reporters on Thursday that the system was so “swamped” that some senators may not be able to view the report until Friday.
She said senators were being told that time slots for reading the report were getting full and that it was “so backed up I might have to wait until tomorrow.”
Other senators criticised the process. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, a Democratic member of the Judiciary Committee, told The Hill it was a “bizarre” procedure that “doesn’t make any sense.”
“Get this – one copy! For the United States Senate,” he said. “That’s what we were told. And we were also that we would be given one hour for the Dems, one hour for the Republicans. Alternating.”
“We tried to reserve some time to read it. That is ridiculous,” Durbin added. “One copy?!”
Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee saw the report first. Grassley said in a statement that he would vote to confirm Kavanaugh after he was briefed on the FBI’s findings.
GRASSLEY ON FBI REPORT:
"There’s nothing in it… It’s time to vote.
I’ll be voting to confirm Judge Kavanaugh. pic.twitter.com/06LUIfR6ul
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) October 4, 2018
The White House, which saw the report before it was provided to senators, said that it was behind Kavanaugh and that nothing significant had been found to corroborate the allegations against him.
The FBI conducted the background investigation into Kavanaugh after he and one of his accusers testified in front on the Senate Judiciary Committee last Thursday. In the hearings, Christine Blasey Ford described being sexually assaulted by Kavanaugh when they were in high school.
Kavanaugh has denied the allegations of sexual misconduct by Ford and two other women. The FBI interviewed several of Kavanaugh’s classmates and other people of interest, including Deborah Ramirez, who has accused Kavanaugh of exposing himself to her when they were at Yale University.
Democrats have criticised the scope and length of the investigation. Former classmates of Kavanaugh have said the FBI has ignored their offers for evidence that could corroborate Ford’s testimony. Michael Avenatti, the lawyer who represents another woman accusing Kavanaugh of sexual assault, has called the investigation a “scam.” Avenatti has said that he has “multiple witnesses that support the allegations and they are all prepared to be interviewed by the FBI” but that the FBI has not spoken with them.
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