This article has been updated.
At some point soon, the FBI is expected to complete its supplementary investigation of Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh, an inquiry centered on allegations of sexual assault and misconduct that occurred when he was in high school and college. Everything about the investigation is unusual, from its genesis — it was essentially mandated by Republican senators wavering on support for Kavanaugh — to its focus, which was reportedly limited in scope by the White House.
The likelihood is low that the bureau will be able to definitively determine the accuracy of the allegations made by Christine Blasey Ford (who accuses Kavanaugh of assaulting her when they were in high school) and Deborah Ramirez (who alleges that he exposed himself to her in college). The allegations involve events that occurred long ago and involved relatively few people, making corroboration tricky. Nor is the FBI going to try to weigh in on the accuracy of the allegations. Instead, its mandate is to collect information for lawmakers who are weighing Kavanaugh’s nomination.
So what information is being collected? With whom has the FBI spoken? News reports give us an incomplete picture of where the FBI has been focused.
The Ford allegations
Ford alleges that she was attending a small gathering of people at a house in suburban Maryland in the early 1980s when a visibly drunk Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge isolated her in a bedroom where Kavanaugh tried to take off her clothes.
Who has been interviewed
Mark Judge. Judge was interviewed this week. His testimony is essential, given that Ford identified him as having been in the room with Kavanaugh during the incident. Judge has previously released statements declaring that he didn’t remember a gathering like the one Ford described and that he had never seen Kavanaugh behave in the way she said he had.
Ford also alleges that she saw Judge at a local Safeway where he worked shortly after the incident and that he seemed uncomfortable around her.
Leland Keyser. Keyser, an old friend of Ford’s whom Ford said was at the gathering, spoke with the FBI on Saturday. Keyser has said that she doesn’t remember the gathering or having met Kavanaugh but told The Washington Post in an interview that she believes Ford’s allegations.
P.J. Smyth. The FBI interviewed Smyth this week. Like Keyser, Ford alleges that Smyth was at the gathering but, like Keyser, he is not alleged to have had knowledge of the alleged assault at the time that it happened. He has publicly indicated through a lawyer that he doesn’t remember the gathering Ford described.
Smyth is also mentioned on Kavanaugh’s 1982 calendar as having attended a party at a mutual friend’s house on July 1 of that year. That entry has attracted attention because it included Kavanaugh, Judge and Smyth, all of whom Ford places at the house where she says she was assaulted.
Timothy Gaudette. The FBI interviewed Gaudette this week. The July 1 party happened at Gaudette’s house, which, property records indicate, was in Rockville, Md., some distance from the country club near which Ford thinks the incident occurred.
Chris Garrett. The FBI interviewed Garrett this week. Nicknamed “Squi” on Kavanaugh’s calendars, Garrett also reportedly attended the July 1 party. No friend of Kavanaugh’s is mentioned more on those calendars than Garrett, suggesting that he would perhaps be the most likely person to corroborate events that Kavanaugh might have attended.
What’s more, as Ford testified last week, Garrett and Ford had some sort of relationship (she says they were “going out”) that would have brought Ford into Kavanaugh’s social circle.
Christine Blasey Ford. Ford’s attorneys say that she has not been interviewed. A source told NBC News that her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week was considered sufficient.
Russell Ford. Christine Ford’s husband bolstered her allegations by indicating that Ford had told him about the alleged assault years before she made her story public. He also has not been contacted by the FBI.
Ford’s ex-boyfriend and Monica McLean. On Tuesday night, Fox News Channel published a letter from Ford’s ex-boyfriend undercutting her assertions that she was afraid of flying and describing an incident in which Ford allegedly helped coach her friend Monica McLean as McLean prepared for a polygraph. (Ford took a polygraph that was used to bolster the veracity of her story.) On Wednesday morning, McLean denied having been coached by Ford.
Given how recently the stories emerged, it’s unlikely that the FBI spoke with either person.
The question marks
Ford’s former therapist. One of the strongest corroborations of Ford’s story comes from notes from her therapist indicating that Ford described the assault during a session in 2012. Whether the FBI has interviewed the therapist isn’t clear, nor is whether the FBI has access to those notes.
Jeremiah Hanafin. Hanafin, a former FBI agent, conducted the polygraph that Ford passed.
Tom Kaine and Bernie McCarthy. The July 1 party was also attended by Kaine and McCarthy, neither of whom are known to have spoken with the FBI. It’s quite possible, of course, that the significance of that event is more overstated in the public discussion than the FBI thinks is warranted, which would make testimony from Kaine and McCarthy unnecessary.
In addition to individuals, it’s not clear whether the FBI has sought information from Safeway that would establish a window during which Judge worked for the store where Ford says she ran into him.
The Ramirez allegations
Ramirez alleges that she attended a party at a Yale University dorm when she and Kavanaugh were freshmen. She remembers that after drinking heavily, she was on the floor and having male genitalia thrust in her face. She isn’t clear that it was Kavanaugh, but she remembers seeing Kavanaugh then make a motion like he was pulling up his pants. Someone else in attendance, she says, yelled down the hall, “Brett Kavanaugh just put his penis in Debbie’s face!”
Who has been interviewed
Deborah Ramirez. The FBI spoke with Ramirez on Sunday.
A number of Kavanaugh’s other college classmates. A number of people who knew Kavanaugh, Ramirez or both in college have come forward with stories of Kavanaugh drinking heavily while at Yale, at times to the point of incoherence. Several indicate that they’ve contacted the FBI, but none appears to have been interviewed, including Kavanaugh’s former roommate.
Kerry Berchem. Berchem alleges that she exchanged text messages with another Yale classmate suggesting that Kavanaugh was aware that Ramirez’s story was going to be revealed and that he was looking for defenders to speak publicly. That would contradict testimony Kavanaugh offered during last week’s hearing. Berchem contacted the FBI but hasn’t heard back.
It raises an interesting question: What is the FBI’s mandate? Is it exploring Kavanaugh’s testimony last week, which might include explorations of Berchem’s text messages or, in the Ford case, questions about how honestly Kavanaugh represented his college years. Is Kavanaugh’s proclivity for drinking heavily part of the scope of what the FBI is looking at?
The question marks
A number of privately identified people who Ramirez says were present for Kavanaugh’s alleged actions. In the initial story in the New Yorker about the Ramirez allegations, the magazine spoke with several people who Ramirez says were present during the encounter. None of them is identified by name, but two, joined by the wife of the third, signed a statement, given to the magazine, denying the allegations.
She provided both the magazine and federal agents with a list of nearly two dozen people that she alleges were at the party, but it’s not clear whether they’ve been interviewed.
The FBI was apparently not directed to include in its investigation allegations made by other people, including Julie Swetnick, who is represented by lawyer Michael Avenatti. The bureau has not contacted Swetnick.
If the FBI isn’t exploring Swetnick’s allegations, it means that it also probably hasn’t interviewed a second, unnamed person who offered a sworn statement supporting her assertions. Avenatti tweeted that statement on Wednesday morning.
The opaque nature of an FBI investigation means generally that we’re left picking through crumbs to figure out what they know and what they’re asking. In this case, it’s not even clear what investigators are trying to learn or whether Kavanaugh’s testimony is being investigated. Given that the inquiry was ordered by a president whose desire for an urgent confirmation of his nominee is obvious, it seems likely to assume the most conservative option: The FBI is interviewing a narrow universe of people about very specific allegations.
Looping us back to the point made at the outset: The results are unlikely to offer a definitive answer to what actually happened.
Update: On Wednesday evening, The Post’s national security team reported that it could only confirm the six individuals identified above as having been interviewed by the FBI.