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FBI Report Doesn't Change White House Support for Kavanaugh

The White House says it has gotten the supplemental background check on Supreme Court nominee judge Brett Kavanaugh and spokesman Raj Shah signaled that investigation has not changed the President's mind about his nominee. 

"This is the last addition to the most comprehensive review of a Supreme Court nominee in history, which includes extensive hearings, multiple committee interviews, over 1,200 questions for the record and over a half million pages of documents," said Shah in an emailed statement. "With this additional information, the White House is fully confident the Senate will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.” 

The White House said it was sending the report to the Senate, suggesting they have ample time to review it. The Judiciary Committee said the report would not be released to the public.

"As with all background investigation (BI) files, the file and the information therein is held confidential under a 2009 memorandum of understanding between the White House and the committee," said the office of Judiciary Committee chair Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). "All 100 senators and a very limited number of cleared committee staff can have access to the information in the BI file. This is how such files have been handled for several administrations.

Out of concern for potential leaks, the report will be held in the Office of Senate Security.

It is unclear whether that FBI check included interviews with either Kavanaugh or Christine Blasey Ford, who accused him of sexual assault and misconduct while both were in high school. There were reports late Wednesday (Oct. 3 that neither had been interviewed).

Senate Democrats have said that without an interview with Ford, they will not consider that check sufficient.

Ford's attorneys reportedly were withholding therapist logs and polygraph information from the Senate Judiciary Committee citing the FBI's failure to interview her.

On the Senate floor, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) said he had been briefed on the report and that there was "nothing new" and that "no witness can confirm any allegation against Kavanaugh." It was unclear just how many witnesses had been interviewed for the background check.

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, which oversees communications issues, tweeted his support for Kavanaugh after his briefing.


Related: Ex-WJLA Weatherman Enters Kavanaugh Nomination Picture

Kavanaugh has faced multiple accusations of sexual misconduct or assault, and questions have been raised about his truthfulness about how much he drank in high school and college and how much it affected him. Kavanaugh has vehemently denied the allegations and suggested while he liked beer, and still does, he did not drink to the point of blacking out or becoming belligerent.

While the White House said it was confident the Senate will confirm Kavanaugh, that looked anything but a sure bet, with key Republicans having yet to weigh in. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has scheduled a procedural vote for Friday, saying of the protesters buttonholing his members in the halls of Congress or their homes that "there is

The nomination has further divided Capitol Hill and the country, with protests from women's groups and a debate exploding on cable TV and social media as the #MeToo movement moves from board room and the screening room to the dorm room and a broader indictment of how many men have viewed and treated women.

Kavanaugh is well known in communications circles as a judge on the D.C. federal appeals court, which oversees FCC decision challenges. Kavanaugh is on the record saying the FCC's 2015 Open Internet order was illegal and should have been overturned.

While the FCC has repealed that order, a request that the Supreme Court hear the ISP appeal of the 2015 regulatory order remains before the High Court, though it is unclear whether that court will grant that hearing. If so, and if Kavanaugh's nomination is confirmed--an increasingly serious "if"--Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), has asked him to recuse himself, though Kavanaugh was not willing to agree to that, saying at his hearing that he would not comment on any decision that could come before the High Court.

John Eggerton
John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.