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Senate eyes only: Panel receives results of FBI Kavanaugh probe

WASHINGTON (Courthouse News) – The Senate Judiciary Committee early Thursday received the results of the FBI’s supplemental probe into sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, as Republican leadership prepares a key preliminary vote on his nomination later this week.

Senator Chuck Grassley, the Iowa Republican who chairs the Judiciary Committee, tweeted early Thursday morning that the panel received the FBI’s findings from the week-long probe. The Trump administration ordered the investigation after several Republican senators, including Judiciary Committee member Senator Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said they would not feel comfortable voting for Kavanaugh without an FBI investigation.

Grassley said senators will have “equal access” to the document, though it will remain under lock and key with senators receiving briefings on its contents throughout the day.

In a statement Thursday, White House Spokesman Raj Shah said the administration is “fully confident” Kavanaugh will earn approval from the full Senate.

“The White House has received the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s supplemental background investigation into Judge Kavanaugh and it is being transmitted to the Senate,” Shah said in a statement. “With Leader McConnell’s cloture filing, senators have been given ample time to review this seventh background check investigation.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Wednesday night set up a key procedural vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination that will test whether the investigation assuaged the concerns of the moderate Republicans who forced the FBI probe. That vote is expected to take place Friday, with the Senate possibly confirming Kavanaugh as early as Saturday.

With a slim margin in the Senate, Republicans can only afford to lose one member from their caucus and still have Kavanaugh confirmed, assuming Democrats vote in lockstep against him.

Three women have accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct over the past three weeks, including Christine Blasey Ford, a professor who says Kavanaugh forced her into a bedroom, pinned her to a bed and attempted to remove her clothes at a party when they were both in high school in 1982.

Kavanaugh has denied the allegations, including in fiery testimony before the Judiciary Committee last week. Ford also testified before the committee, detailing her memories of the night and the ways in which the alleged assault has impacted her life.

In a statement issued Thursday morning after he was briefed on the results of the investigation, Grassley said the probe found “no hint of misconduct” and turned up no witnesses who could back up the allegations against Kavanaugh.

“I trust that the career agents of the FBI have done their work independent of political or partisan considerations,” the statement said. “That’s exactly what senators from both sides asked for. Now it’s up to senators to fulfill their constitutional duty and make a judgment.”