For the past week, Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination has largely hinged on a federal probe into his background, leaving the future makeup of the nation's highest court in limbo. Now, the FBI investigation into Kavanaugh has concluded, according to Mitch McConnell, leaving senators with documents to review as they make their final decision about how to vote on his confirmation.
“This evening, the Senate will receive the results of the FBI’s supplemental background investigation," McConnell said in front of the Senate Wednesday night. “There will be plenty of time for Members to review and be briefed on the supplemental material before a Friday cloture vote." If the cloture motion passes with a majority vote on Friday, the Senate debate over Kavanaugh will be limited to 30 hours and a final vote will be held on Saturday.
Despite President Donald Trump previously claiming that the FBI shouldn't investigate sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh because it's "not really their thing," the agency reopened the judge's background check per Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake's request last Friday. The White House then reportedly authorized the FBI to interview anyone it wished for the investigation — except for Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, according to Bloomberg.
Ford testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 27 that Kavanaugh attempted to sexually assault her in high school. Kavanaugh testified immediately after her, repeatedly denying her allegation and suggesting that Ford had mistaken him for a man who assaulted her in the 1980s. The White House suggested to the FBI that Kavanaugh and Ford's testimonies were sufficient for the investigation, according to Bloomberg.
The FBI was criticized for being slow to respond to possible witnesses reaching out to offer information about the allegations. But Deborah Ramirez, who alleged that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her in college, did speak to the agency, her lawyer confirmed on Twitter. Kavanaugh has also repeatedly denied her allegation.
"It was a detailed and productive interview, and the agents were clearly motivated to investigate the matter in any way they were permitted," John Clune, Ramirez's lawyer tweeted on Oct. 2. He added, "Though we appreciated the agents who responded on Sunday, we have great concern that the FBI is not conducting — or not being permitted to conduct — a serious investigation."
A third woman, Julie Swetnick, accused Kavanaugh of "targeting" girls and engaging in "highly inappropriate conduct" in high school, which Kavanaugh has denied. She was initially excluded from the investigation, though Democrats urged the FBI to interview her as well.
"We ask that you confirm that the FBI background investigation will include the allegations of Christine Blasey Ford, Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick and that the FBI will perform all logical steps related to these allegations, including interviewing other individuals who might have relevant information and gathering evidence related to the truthfulness of statements made in relation to these allegations," Democrats wrote in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Oct. 1, per The Hill.
As mainly Republican senators said repeatedly during their public meetings last week, an FBI investigation does not draw a formal conclusion. Instead, it gathers evidence that it can then present to senators. From there, it is up to the senators to decide what they will do with that information — and if it will, ultimately, affect how they vote on Kavanaugh's confirmation. It is also up to them to decide if the FBI report itself will be made public. Otherwise, it's possible the public will never know the full contents of the investigation.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org.