In three tweets, the first published at 2:24 a.m. Thursday, Shah said lawmakers will have had “ample time” to review the results of the latest investigation by the time they vote Friday on whether to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination, according to a schedule set into motion Wednesday by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Senators will be able to review the report at a secure facility at the Capitol beginning Thursday.
The efforts by Senate leadership, in concert with the White House, to move swiftly on a confirmation vote came as Democrats raised fresh objections about how Kavanaugh, who stands accused of sexual misconduct by several women, has been vetted. He denies the allegations.
In a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), eight of the committee’s 10 Democrats contested the claim of Republican staff members that prior investigations had demonstrated a clean record. They said past background checks had turned up evidence of inappropriate behavior but had left out specifics.
Even as the White House claimed to give the FBI permission to broaden its examination, it continued to hold the bureau to a strict timeline. Moreover, the inquiry focused mainly on the account of Christine Blasey Ford, a research psychologist and professor who alleges that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were high school students in the Washington suburbs. The Washington Post reported Wednesday that the White House had quietly restricted the FBI from scrutinizing the nominee’s drinking habits, as well as possible disparities between his alcohol consumption as a young man and his account before Congress.
Democrats, along with attorneys and other advocates for Kavanaugh’s accusers, cried foul, saying the investigation was not designed to ferret out the facts but rather to give Republicans cover to force the nomination through. Republicans countered that Democrats were interested only in delaying the process.
The early-morning tweets from Shah appeared to confirm a Wall Street Journal article posted several hours earlier indicating that the White House had found no evidence in the FBI report corroborating accusations of sexual misconduct against the nominee.
The White House’s verdict is not necessarily surprising, given the president’s repeated affirmations of his confidence in his nominee. On Tuesday, at a rally in Southaven, Miss., Trump mocked Ford. Ford testified last week before the Senate Judiciary Committee, putting pressure on Republicans to submit to a further investigation of Kavanaugh.
The White House’s position is hardly decisive, as it is the Senate — and most likely a cluster of centrist lawmakers — that will decide Kavanaugh’s fate. Still, the declaration means that dissenting Republican senators could have to publicly oppose the conclusions of their party’s president.