Senate Republicans emerged from a briefing on the FBI’s follow up investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh claiming that the FBI had turned up no new information corroborating his accusers.
“The fact is that these allegations have not been corroborated. None of the allegations have been corroborated by the seventh FBI investigation,” Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said on the Senate floor after the briefing. “Not in the new FBI investigation. Not anywhere.”
Republicans were briefed by Judiciary Committee staff on the FBI’s report for in a secured location in the Senate basement known as a SCIF (Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility). A single copy of report — which includes the roughly 50 pages of raw transcripts of the interviews the FBI conducted — will be available for senators of both parties to read through throughout the day.
“There’s no new information here, but there’s a lot of information that verifies that Judge Kavanaugh’s conduct has been appropriate,” Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) told reporters.
“I’ve learned nothing I didn’t already know,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told reporters. “I am more confident than ever of Brett Kavanaugh.”
The FBI reached out to 10 people as part of its follow-up investigation, and talked to all but one, who refused, Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA), a Judiciary Republican told reporters. Other senators said that 10 people were questioned for the investigation.
It was not clear Thursday morning who had declined to talk to the FBI, but among the people who were interviewed was Mark Judge, Kavanaugh’s high school friend who Christine Blasey Ford had said was in the room when Kavanaugh allegedly assaulted her.
“They interviewed Mark Judge for three hours,” Kennedy said, adding that he hadn’t read the interview transcript yet.
Kavanaugh has vehemently denied her and others’ allegations, while Judge in a public statement also denied it and said he didn’t recall the party at which the alleged event was said to have occurred.
“There’s simply no corroboration of Dr. Ford’s or Ms. Ramirez’s allegations,” Kennedy said, referring to Deborah Ford, who accused Kavanaugh of exposing himself in front of her when they were in college.
Democrats, having received their own briefing on the report, are arguing that the it was “incomplete” investigation.
However, it seems to have satisfied at least one of the GOP senators who were wavering on Kavanaugh’s confirmation before the FBI took on the additional investigation.
“It appears to be a very thorough investigation,” Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) told CNN.
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who last week pushed McConnell into requesting the follow-up probe, said that he had seen “no additional corroborating information” in the report, according to CNN.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (AK), the other key Republican holdout, was not spotted entering the SCIF Thursday, however there are back entrances through which she may have slipped through.
Republicans came out of the briefing stressing the talking point that the FBI had interviewed 150 people total, when including the six other background checks it conducted on Kavanaugh in addition to the latest probe.
They also seemed confident that they would be able to confirm Kavanaugh, with procedural votes on the floor set to start as soon as Friday.
“I’m more confident than ever that what the committee found was held up and then some,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told reporters.
“The FBI did a professional job and were not hindered,” Graham said.
Update: This story has been updated to reflect discrepancies in senators’ accounts on the number of witnesses questioned for the report.