Friday, 19 October, 2018

FBI Said to Lack White House Approval to Talk to Kavanaugh, Ford

Republicans take careful steps to secure the FBI's background report of Brett Kavanaugh ordered after he was accused of sexual assault Embattled Trump court nominee drops Harvard teaching
Charlie Simmons | 04 October, 2018, 08:26

With the Federal Bureau of Investigation poised to report as soon as Wednesday night on sexual misconduct allegations against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump's mocking remarks about one of Kavanaugh's accusers raised concerns among three Republicans whose votes could decide the confirmation fight. "God, I hope you never get it".

"What neighbourhood was it in?" I don't know. I don't know. 'I don't know.' Upstairs, downstairs, where was it?

"I had one beer, right?" 'I don't remember.' How'd you get there?

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican who has been critical of Trump but also has the president's ear, said Wednesday at the The Atlantic Festival in Washington that Trump's comments were "not helping" and he should "knock it off", but he also argued that "everything he said is factual".

"There's no time and no place for remarks like that", he said on NBC's Today show. It's just not right.

"With all of that you can not say that we've done anything but be respectful, and I do".

Speaking to reporters early Wednesday afternoon, Murkowski said: "I thought the president's comments yesterday mocking Dr. Ford were wholly inappropriate and in my view unacceptable". Trump said, reiterating a question Ford was asked by the committee.

Republicans now hold a 51-49 advantage in the Senate.

Washington has been awaiting completion of the investigation since last week, when Flake, Collins and Murkowski pressured a reluctant Trump and Republican leaders to order the FBI to renew its background check of the 53-year-old Kavanaugh.

So far, no Republicans have said they would vote against Kavanaugh.

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Trump limited the investigation to no more than a week.

Trump spent much of the rally, however, lamenting the treatment of Kavanaugh by Democrats, whose attacks, he said, had taken their toll on the judge's family. Writing in all capital letters, Trump said when he goes to political rallies, which are organised by Republicans, he sees that voters are angry at the "vicious and despicable" way Democrats are treating his nominee.

Trump's Ford mocking is not the problem, the White House representative told reporters.

The FBI interviewed several people, including three who Ford has said attended a 1982 high school gathering in suburban Maryland where she says Kavanaugh's attack occurred, plus another Kavanaugh friend. There are facts that she can not remember: "how she got home, how she got there, where the house was, what the date was".

However, as of Wednesday afternoon, senators did not expect to receive a full report of everything the FBI investigated in their week-long investigation - rather, they expected interview summaries without any drawn conclusions or summaries from the FBI, Republican Sen. On Twitter, he hailed Kavanaugh as "a fine man and great intellect" and insisted, "The country is with him all the way!" Flake has not said how he will vote if the nomination comes up this week.

"It's time to put this embarrassing spectacle behind us", he said. "This is all part of the organised effort to delay, obstruct and intimidate, including those of us who will be voting this week".

Appearing at the Forbes Under 30 Summit in Boston, Flake said on Monday that he wants the FBI to conduct a "real investigation" and not one that "just gives us more cover".

The FBI has already interviewed Mark Judge, a friend of Kavanaugh, as well as at least three other people with information about the allegations made by Ford and a second accuser, Deborah Ramirez. Judge, Smyth and Keyser say they don't recall the incident described by Ford.

But he said they are not following up at all on Ramirez's account that Kavanaugh thrust his genitals in her face, forcing her to touch them without her consent, during an alcohol-fuelled party when they were students at Yale University in the mid-1980s.

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