The Senate Judiciary Committee released an executive summary of the FBI's confidential supplemental background report into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh late Thursday, which key swing-vote senators vowed they would continue to review Friday ahead of a major vote on his confirmation.
According to the summary of the secret report, released by the Republican committee majority, FBI agents interviewed 10 people and reached out to 11, focusing only on witnesses with potential first-hand knowledge of alleged sexual misconduct by Kavanaugh.
"The FBI provided to the Senate 12 detailed FD-302 reports summarizing their interviews with the witnesses as well as supporting materials cited by the witnesses during their interviews," the summary reads.
Among those questioned were Mark Judge, PJ Smyth, and Leland Keyser, the three individuals Christine Blasey Ford claimed were present when Kavanaugh allegedly threw her on a bed and sexually assaulted her sometime in the 1980s (Ford has variously claimed the episode occurred in the mid-1980s and early 1980s, before testifying that it occurred in 1982).
All three of those individuals had already provided statements to the Judiciary Committee under penalty of felony denying any knowledge of the alleged assault. Keyser, Ford's lifelong best friend, denied ever knowing Kavanaugh. When questioned about Keyser's statement at last Thursday's hearing, Ford suggested Keyser was having serious medical issues and had apologized for her denial.
Judge was also questioned extensively about other allegations besides Ford's.
The FBI also interviewed two individuals named in Kavanaugh's July 1, 1982 calendar entry, which some observers said could have described the gathering where she was purportedly attacked. Those individuals were his longtime friend Christopher Garrett and Timothy Gaudette, whose house Kavanaugh went to for beers, according to his calendar. An attorney for one of those witnesses was also interviewed.
Finally, the FBI interviewed Deborah Ramirez, the woman who claimed in an explosive New Yorker piece that Kavanaugh had exposed himself to her at a Yale party. The FBI also interviewed two alleged eyewitnesses identified by Ramirez, and tried to interview a third, but that individual refused to cooperate. Agents also interviewed one of Ramirez's close friends from college.
"The Supplemental Background Investigation confirms what the Senate Judiciary Committee concluded after its investigation: there is no corroboration of the allegations made by Dr. Ford or Ms. Ramirez," the Judiciary Committee Republicans wrote.
For several hours, senators from both parties filed in and out of the Capitol Building's Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF), where they pored over the FBI's report in a private, secured setting. Senators were not allowed to take the report out of the SCIF.
Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins, considered a key potential swing vote on Kavanaugh, said Thursday that the bureau’s supplemental background probe “appears to be a very thorough investigation.” On Thursday afternoon, however, she remained in the SCIF for more than an hour and a half, causing some consternation among Republicans.
“All of that time, she still doesn’t know?” one source asked Fox News.
And Arizona Republican Sen. Flake, who originally requested the FBI re-open its investigation into the sexual assault claims leveled against Kavanaugh by Christine Blasey Ford, agreed with Collins' assessment.
“No new corroborative information came out of it,” Flake said. “Thus far, we’ve seen no new credible corroboration — no new corroboration at all.”
However, Flake continued to keep the public guessing, returning to view the report again and saying he has "more reading" to do. He pulled a surprise last week when he publicly backed Kavanaugh, then demanded the FBI probe before a final vote.
Top Democrats, though, minced no words about the FBI's report, saying the bureau's inquiry should not have been restricted to one week. President Trump has said the FBI had the authority to interview "whoever" they wanted, but Democrats also alleged that the administration had meddled in the investigation.
The time limit, Flake and other Republicans said, was necessary to avoid bogging down Kavanaugh's nomination with a never-ending probe into the accusations, which all related to alleged events more than three decades ago. None of the claims against Kavanaugh appear to have had first-hand corroboration, and the credibility of some of his accusers has come under question in recent days.
"Well, that report — if that's an investigation, it's a bull—- investigation," Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., told a man as he walked through the Capitol complex on Thursday. "The reality is, that was not a full and thorough investigation."
Ford's attorneys also criticized the FBI for not reaching out to interview their client, who testified at length during Thursday's hearing. They told Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, that they would only turn over Ford's therapist notes if the FBI interviewed their client. Ford has extensively cited her 2012 therapy notes as a kind of corroboration for her claims but has not provided them — even in part — to investigators. (The Washington Post said Ford had shared a "portion" of her notes with their reporters, but under oath on Thursday, Ford said she could not recall whether she had actually done so, or merely described the notes).
Late Thursday, Grassley ripped into Ford's attorneys for their request.
"Your response on behalf of your client is a non-sequitur," Grassley wrote in a letter. "It’s not even clear to me what purpose turning over these materials to the FBI would accomplish. The FBI would simply turn over that evidence to the Senate. That is precisely the outcome I seek with this request."
Furthermore, Grassley added, "The U.S. Senate doesn’t control the FBI. If you have an objection to how the FBI conducts its investigations, take it up with [FBI] Director [Christopher] Wray."
A final vote on Kavanaugh's confirmation is expected Saturday. A key procedural vote to end debate on his nomination is set for Friday morning.