In the wake of bombshell reports about the FBI’s failure to fully vet Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the Freedom From Religion Foundation is calling for an investigation.
Seven senators on Thursday said that newly released materials show the FBI failed to fully investigate sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh when he was a nominee for the high court. The FBI received 4,500 tips, most of which were ignored.
Kavanaugh was credibly accused of sexual assault in an incident that the background investigation had apparently missed. Christine Blasey Ford risked her health and reputation by publicly testifying about the details of Kavanaugh assaulting her in the early 1980s, drawing death threats from Kavanaugh’s fevered supporters. Kavanaugh responded with righteous indignation, lashing out at U.S. senators who would dare to hold him accountable. “What goes around comes around,” he ominously promised.
Around the same time, it was discovered that Kavanaugh had upward of $200,000 in debt that mysteriously vanished just prior to his nomination to the high court. Given Kavanaugh’s lifestyle, it is reportedly unclear how he could have afforded to pay off these debts. This, too, must be investigated.
The FBI deserves much of the blame, but it was also hamstrung by a political process. The White House has the authority to request FBI background checks on nominees and controls the scope of that inquiry and any follow-up. This means the Trump White House, led by a man credibly accused of sexual assault by 26 women, controlled the contours of the Kavanaugh check. Kavanaugh was narrowly confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2018.
The full extent of Blasey Ford’s claims must be investigated and reported. And the shady financial dealings must be brought to light.
If the investigation shows that Kavanaugh lied to Congress, that would be grounds for impeachment. Only one Supreme Court justice, Samuel Chase in 1804, has ever been impeached, although he was acquitted by the Senate. Regardless of the outcome, a thorough investigation would help to restore public confidence in the Supreme Court and in the nomination process, and begin to heal the damage that has been done over the past four years to one of the pillars of U.S. democracy.