Grassley: Dems’ Call For FBI Help Shows ‘Fundamental Misunderstanding’

on September 13, 2018 in Washington, DC.
Alex Wong/Getty Images North America

Tierney Sneed contributed reporting.

In a letter sent to Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday and obtained by TPM, committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) rejected their call to allow the FBI time to reopen its background check into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in light of the sexual assault allegation made against him by Christine Blasey Ford.

In the lengthy letter, Grassley wrote that Democrats’ request that he allow time for the FBI to reopen its background check of Kavanaugh before holding a hearing “demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the FBI background investigation process.”

After explaining that the Senate can’t tell an executive branch agency what to do, Grassley granted that, in Anita Hill’s case, the White House “directed the FBI to conduct a handful of interviews regarding Professor Hill’s allegations” regarding then-nominee Clarence Thomas.

But, Grassley said, Hill’s accusations weren’t public at the time. And after Hill’s allegations were leaked publicly, he wrote, “we did not ask the FBI to conduct an investigation. Instead, we reopened the hearing and assessed the testimony that was given on our own.”

Kavanaugh, Grassley wrote, sat for a transcribed interview with Senate investigators on Monday (which Democratic staff declined to attend, he wrote) and volunteered to attend a public hearing. Republican staff, he wrote, “Has also sought to set up interviews with Dr. Ford, Mark Judge, and two other alleged witnesses.”

After criticizing Democrats’ handling of Blasey Ford’s allegation — and indeed, of Kavanaugh’s entire confirmation process — Grassley concluded: “Therefore, I will view any additional complaints about the process very skeptically.”

Read Grassley’s letter below:

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