Senate panel gets FBI report on misconduct accusations against Kavanaugh

Politics

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Senate Judiciary Committee said on Thursday it has received the FBI report on sexual misconduct allegations against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and lawmakers will review the document later in the day, ahead of a key procedural vote on Friday.

White House spokesman Raj Shah said on Twitter the administration also received the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s report and was “fully confident” the Senate would approve his nomination.

The White House found no corroboration of the allegations against Kavanaugh in the report, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Senator Chuck Grassley, the head of the Judiciary Committee, said on Twitter that he and the panel’s top Democrat, Dianne Feinstein, have agreed to “alternating equal access for senators to study the contents” of the FBI report.

Senate Judiciary staff will brief Republican members at 10 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT), a source told Reuters, adding there were “no bombshells” in the document.

The FBI report was sent to the White House and Senate just hours after Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took steps Wednesday night to force a procedural vote on the nomination one hour after the Senate convenes on Friday.

McConnell filed a petition for a cloture vote, which if successful would limit debate on the nomination and start the clock ticking on a final 30-hour waiting period before a Senate confirmation vote.

After filing a cloture petition, lawmakers must wait one legislative day before proceeding to a vote, according to Senate rules. A cloture vote could come on Friday morning at the soonest.

Christine Blasey Ford, a college professor from California has accused Kavanaugh of assaulting her in 1982 when they were high school students. Her attorneys said she was not contacted by the FBI for the latest report.

Several people with information related to allegations against Kavanaugh told Reuters they had not heard from the FBI, suggesting its report may be narrower than was desired by some lawmakers who demanded it just days ago.

With the report’s conclusions as yet unclear, a partisan struggle over it has been developing.

U.S. President Donald Trump and the Senate Republican leadership are battling to corral enough support for a majority vote for Kavanaugh, a conservative federal appeals court judge, while Democrats are in near unanimity against him.

Three Republicans who could be key to whether Kavanaugh is confirmed – Senators Jeff Flake, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski – criticized Trump for mocking Ford at a political rally in Mississippi on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh testifies in front of the Senate Judiciary committee regarding sexual assault allegations at the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, U.S., September 27, 2018. Gabriella Demczuk/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

Ford, who testified last week at a dramatic Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, said she could not remember the precise date or location of the alleged assault or how she got home later, but offered a detailed account of the incident.

Reporting by Brendan O’Brien, Amanda Becker and Richard Cowan; Additional reporting by Nathan Layne, Sarah N. Lynch, Lisa Lambert, Lawrence Hurley and David Alexander; Editing by John Stonestreet and Jeffrey Benkoe

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