U.S. Supreme Court
My Kavanaugh tips were never investigated by the FBI, say Akin Gump partner and others
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was nominated by former President Donald Trump in July 2018 and has served on the high court since October 2018.
Controversy and secrecy still surround the FBI’s probe of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, conducted after Christine Blasey Ford testified during his nomination hearing that he sexually assaulted her during a party that they attended in high school.
Law360 reviewed thousands of pages of FBI documents made available last year and spoke with people who said their tips to the agency were never investigated, despite multiple attempts to reach the FBI.
The FBI received than 4,500 Kavanaugh-related tips through its public access line. Law360’s review found that hundreds of pages had been deleted, and at least a thousand tips were completely redacted. Time stamps on internal memos about the tips indicated that they may have gone for days or even weeks without any internal review.
The FBI interviewed 10 additional witnesses as a result of limited inquiries requested by the White House counsel, according to an FBI disclosure last year.
Law360 spoke with former FBI agents who wondered whether the weeklong time frame for the investigation was sufficient and whether the Trump administration had limited the inquiry.
“Questions linger about what resources were allocated to the probe, how long tips sat without being reviewed by FBI staff, and whether agents could expand its scope in light of credible allegations,” Law360 reports.
The story pointed out U.S. Senate testimony by FBI Director Christopher Wray, who said last month his agency “did not further investigate” Kavanaugh-related tips provided to the White House. Wray also said the FBI took direction from the White House on the people who should be interviewed for its probe, according to Esquire.
Wray made the admission while being questioned by Democratic U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, who also spoke with Law360. Whitehouse said senators spoke with an FBI official who said “relevant tips” provided to the White House counsel’s office were any tip that mentioned Kavanaugh.
Law360 highlighted several people who provided tips and said there was no follow-up to their allegations:
• Kerry Berchem, a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, who attended Yale University around the same time as Kavanaugh. According to Berchem, a friend’s texts indicated that Kavanaugh sought her help defending himself against allegations that he had exposed himself and thrusted his genitals into the face of classmate Deborah Ramirez during a drinking party. Berchem told Law360 that the texts could be evidence that Kavanaugh lied when he said he didn’t discuss the allegation with anyone before the New Yorker disclosed the allegation.
“To say that I was and remain disappointed by the so-called FBI supplemental investigation would be a gross understatement,” Berchem told Law360.
• Joseph Hennessey, who said he was friends with Kavanaugh’s high school classmates, and Kavanaugh was “stupid drunk, aggressive and confrontational” at multiple high school parties.
• Kathleen Charlton, a former Yale classmate, who said Kavanaugh “tried to influence witnesses before the alleged assault accounts were published and possibly even before journalists knew about them.”
• Chad Ludington, who said he had seen Kavanaugh be “belligerent and aggressive” while they were drinking together. He told Law360 that he finally realized that the FBI was “not interested in my tip, or it was going to the tip equivalent of a dead letter office.”
Two other lawyers also submitted tips. One lawyer reported that a client who attended Yale with Kavanaugh had seen him “engage in conduct with a female student that was similar to the conduct since reported by Deborah Ramirez.” Another lawyer said two people who know Ford were “aware of some very serious problems that are pertinent to her claims.”
Kavanaugh has denied allegations by Ford and Ramirez. Law360 sought comment from Kavanaugh for its story through the Supreme Court press office, but its requests were unanswered.
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