The FBI has acknowledged receiving more than 4,500 tips during its background investigation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, prompting a new wave of criticism from Senate Democrats who have long questioned the bureau’s vetting process nearly three years after Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation.
While Kavanaugh was confirmed by a narrow majority (50-48) his confirmation was defined by the emotional testimony of California university professor Christine Blasey Ford who accused the nominee of sexually assaulting her in the early 1980s and Kavanaugh’s angry denials.
In a June 30 letter made public by lawmakers Thursday, assistant FBI director Jill Tyson does not elaborate on the substance of the tip information.
Tyson, responding to earlier inquires from Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., and Christopher Coons, D-Del., said Kavanugh’s nomination marked the first time that an FBI tip-line had been established to receive information during a Senate confirmation inquiry.
“The admissions in your letter corroborate and explain numerous credible accounts by individuals and firms that they had contacted the FBI with information highly relevant to … allegations’ of sexual misconduct by Justice Kavanaugh, only to be ignored,” Whitehouse and Coons said in a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray that was joined by five other Senate Democrats. “If the FBI was not authorized to or did not follow up on any of the tips that it received from the tip line, it is difficult to understand the point of having a tip line at all.”
Seizing on the FBI’s newly-disclosed letter, Ford’s attorneys, Debra Katz and Lisa Banks, referred to the bureau’s handling of the Kavanaugh inquiry as “a sham and major institutional failure.”
The FBI’s Security Division, which handles background investigations for nominees, provided “all relevant tips” to the White House Counsel’s Office, which had requested the review. Tyson’s letter, however, does not say how much was shared with the White House.