Senate GOP Takes Steps to Prevent Brett Kavanaugh Report Leaks

UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 27: Judge Brett Kavanaugh testifies during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on his nomination be an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, focusing on allegations of sexual assault by Kavanaugh against Christine Blasey Ford in the early 1980s.
Tom Williams/Getty Images
IAN MASON

The FBI’s seventh background investigation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh is reportedly slated to be released to senators’ eyes only on Thursday morning. On Wednesday, Republicans laid out a tightly choreographed process to keep it confidential.

The report as made available to senators consists of only one paper copy of the FBI’s official interview notes and other documents from the six-day probe, according to NBC News. Only the 100 senators and ten specially selected Senate Judiciary Committee staff will be allowed to see the copy. Republicans and Democrats will take alternating one-hour viewing sessions with the one copy.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), a Judiciary Committee member, has led some of the strongest attacks against Judge Kavanaugh during his confirmation process — especially after the publication of the uncorroborated sexual misconduct allegations that gave rise to this seventh FBI probe. He expressed his displeasure at the process to the Hill.

“Get this — one copy! For the United States Senate,” Durbin told the Hill. “That’s what we were told. And we were also told that we would be given one hour for the Dems, one hour for the Republicans. Alternating.”

“We tried to reserve some time to read it. That is ridiculous,” Durbin continued. “One copy?! Bizarre, it doesn’t make any sense.”

The rules Republicans laid out no doubt stem from concerns that, in what may be the most politically charged and viciously fought judicial confirmation in modern American history, Democrats may selectively leak material to the news media that appears damning of Judge Kavanaugh or seems to corroborate accuser Christine Blasey Ford’s account of a high school party where, she claims, a 17-year-old Kavanaugh groped her.

This concern with security keeps with tradition and the explicit dictates of the governing memorandum of understanding on the subject–that FBI background investigations of nominees be kept confidential. Some in the news media, however, are skeptical even these precautions will prevent leaks:

Regardless of any report leaks and what the document contains, a cloture vote to end debate on Kavanaugh’s nomination is now expected Friday, setting up a final Senate floor vote this weekend or Monday.

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