Democrats have renewed their criticism of the FBI’s handling of the 2017 investigation into Justice Brett Kavanaugh, after an FBI assistant director revealed that the most “relevant” tips in the investigation were forwarded to White House lawyers in the Trump administration.
The assistant director, Jill Tyson, informed Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.) and Chris Coons (D., Del.) in a June letter that the FBI received over 4,500 tips in its probe of Kavanaugh. The FBI then “provided all relevant tips to the Office of White House Counsel,” Tyson wrote. Ten individuals who provided tips were ultimately interviewed.
The letter was written in response to a 2019 letter from Whitehouse and Coons to FBI Director Christopher Wray.
“Your letter confirms that the F.B.I.’s tip line was a departure from past practice and that the F.B.I. was politically constrained by the Trump White House,” the senators wrote.
The FBI operated a “fake tip line that never got properly reviewed, that was presumably not even conducted in good faith,” Whitehouse told the New York Times on Thursday. Whitehouse wrote on Twitter that Tyson’s letter “confirms my suspicions that the ‘tip line’ was not real and that FBI tip line procedures were not followed.”
The investigation was “an injustice in fact orchestrated by the White House under Donald Trump, an injustice that frankly was a disservice to the F.B.I.,” Senator Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.) commented.
Whitehouse claimed in March that the FBI’s 2018 background check into Kavanaugh was “fake.” Senator Ben Sasse (R., Neb.) described Whitehouse’s “obsession” with the case as “sinister,” a “kind of paranoid obsession is Nixonian poison to public trust,” in comments to National Review at the time.
Kavanaugh was accused of sexual assault by Christine Blasey Ford, currently a professor of psychology at Palo Alto University, in an alleged incident in 1982. Kavanaugh has consistently denied the allegation and claimed he had never met Blasey-Ford, who was unable to produce any corroborating witnesses. She was also unable to identify the location where the assault allegedly occurred.
Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court by former President Trump after raucous Senate hearings during which hundreds of protesters were arrested.