All weekend long news outlets were humming with conflicting narratives on what the White House had said or didn’t say about the nature and extent of the one week FBI investigation called for into allegations of sexual assault by Brett Kavanaugh. Trump said he had given the FBI “free rein” but the New York Times reported that the FBI was told to question only four witnesses. Restricted, unrestricted, something else? The only thing certain about this investigation is that so far confusion reigns, because this isn’t the way you do this kind of an investigation. Jane Mayer, Ronan Farrow, New Yorker:
Robert Bauer, who served as the White House counsel to President Obama, said that he had overseen numerous F.B.I. background investigations and never seen one so circumscribed. “The F.B.I. should have the latitude to determine what is necessary in a credible, professional inquiry,” he said. “The issue on the table is, Did he or didn’t he engage in the conduct that Dr. Ford alleged?” To reach the answer, he said, “The F.B.I. needs to utilize its expertise to investigate. But instead the White House has dictated a restricted investigative plan. So it’s contaminated at the core.”
Elizabeth Rasor, Mark Judge’s former girlfriend, reached out through her attorney, Roberta Kaplan,
“But the only response we’ve gotten are e-mails saying that our e-mails have been ‘received.’ ” At one point, she said, an F.B.I. official suggested she try calling an 800-number telephone tip line.
She’s not the only one, either.
A Yale classmate attempting to corroborate Deborah Ramirez’s account that, during her freshman year at Yale, Kavanaugh thrust his penis in her face at a drunken party, said that he, too, has struggled unsuccessfully to reach the F.B.I. The classmate, who asked to remain anonymous, recalled hearing about Ramirez’s allegation either the night it happened or during the following two days. The classmate said that he was “one-hundred-per-cent certain” that he had heard an account that was practically identical to Ramirez’s, thirty-five years ago, but the two had never spoken about it. He had hoped to convey this to the F.B.I., but, when he reached out to a Bureau official in Washington, D.C., he was told to contact the F.B.I. field office nearest his home. When he tried that, he was referred to a recording. After several attempts to reach a live person at the field office, he finally reached an official who he said had no idea what he was talking about. At this point, he went back to the official at the F.B.I.’s D.C. headquarters, who then referred him, too, to an 800-number tip line. (He eventually left a tip through an online portal.)
“I thought it was going to be an investigation,” the Yale classmate said, “but instead it seems it’s just an alibi for Republicans to vote for Kavanaugh.” He said that he had been in touch with other classmates who also wanted to provide information corroborating Ramirez’s account, but that they had not done so.
Even Chad Ludington, Kavanaugh’s drinking buddy who was with him the night Kavanaugh threw a beer into another bar patron’s face and the cops were called, got the run around.
“I felt it was my civic duty to tell of my experience while drinking with Brett, and I offer this statement to the press. I have no desire to speak further publicly, and nothing more to say to the press at this time. I will however, take my information to the F.B.I.” The Times reported that Ludington, a professor at North Carolina State University, said that the F.B.I.’s D.C. field office had told him to go to the Bureau’s Raleigh, North Carolina, field office on Monday if he wished to speak with agents.
This one week extension of time in which to wrap up the Kavanaugh inquiry seemed unwieldy at the time, and that’s exactly how it’s playing out. The investigation is a good idea. Now the idea needs to get grounded in the real world, with a realistic time frame, first and foremost, and hands off from the White House. Let the FBI do its job the way it knows how to do it. Otherwise, there really is no investigation and saying that there is one is only gamesmanship so that the GOP can look good, which is just what everybody feared.
Kavanaugh’s going to have the job 35 years, maybe more. There is no excuse, on these facts, not to take this investigation seriously and do it properly.
Please follow me on Twitter @ursulafaw56