Senators vote on Kavanaugh's nomination
CNN’s Jeremy Herb caught up with Senator Susan Collins, a crucial swing vote, after the senators briefing on the FBI report.
She did not indicate how she would vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation but said of the FBI report “it appears to be a very thorough investigation.”
She added she would read the report in full later today.
CNN's Manu Raju reports that this comment from Collins is "hugely significant" as it suggests that she is satisfied with how this investigation went, making it clear she's siding with the Republicans on that key question about whether or not this investigation was done thoroughly and completely.
"She believes it has," Raju just said. "Now, what does that mean for her vote? We don't have final answer on that yet."
The FBI report, according to congressional sources and as well as sources briefed on the documents, includes not only the interview summaries but also information that came in to the FBI’s tip line.
CNN has reported on a number of individuals from Yale who said they had reached out to the FBI to report information but had not been subsequently contacted by the FBI.
One source says the FBI report is more than 1,000 pages.
Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, speaking after he was briefed on Brett Kavanaugh's FBI report, said that going into this process Democrats had "many fears" that the investigation's parameters would "constrain the FBI from getting all the facts."
"Having received a thorough briefing on the documents," Schumer said, "those fears have been realized."
Schumer added that he disagrees with Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley's earlier assessment that the investigation "found no hint of misconduct."
He also criticized the process of reviewing the document itself, stating, "The fact that there's only one document in there for 100 senators is another example of constraining the ability of all senators and the American public to see the whole truth and nothing but."
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the Ranking Member on the Senate Judiciary Commitee, said at a press availability after viewing Brett Kavanaugh's FBI report that "the most notable part of this report is what's not in it. As we noted by the white house, the FBI did not interview Brett Kavanaugh. Nor did the FBI interview Dr. Blasey Ford."
She added, "It looks to be a product of an incomplete investigation that was limited, perhaps by the White House. I don't know."
"Democrats agreed that the investigation's scope should be limited," Feinstein said. "We did not agree that the White House should tie the FBI's hands."
Multiple senior GOP aides expressed confidence Wednesday night that Kavanaugh was on the path to confirmation -- though all acknowledged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell still hasn't received any commitments or assurances from the undecided senators.
The expectation, aides say, is barring some significant new disclosure in the FBI inquiry, they'll make it over the vote threshold to get Kavanaugh confirmed.
"We've made sure they got what they needed," one of the aides said. "Now we move forward."
In other words, the week-long delay is almost over. The FBI supplemental background check is officially on Capitol Hill. The first vote is scheduled for Friday.
This is moving forward, one way or another.
Programming note: Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and a number of Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold an 11 a.m. ET press conference where they will share reactions to the FBI's supplemental background check for Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
We'll likely carry it live here or, when it's time, refresh this page and it should appear in the video player up above.
[Note: We said it was 10 a.m. ET in a previous version of this post. It will be at 11 a.m. ET. Sorry about that.]
The FBI's background investigation report is not public. It will likely never be public. There will be no summary. There will be no release. So don't expect one.
There are 109 people who have clearance to access what was delivered to Capitol Hill at 2:30 Thursday morning -- 100 senators, four majority committee staffers, four minority committee staffers and one committee clerk.
There is a single copy of the FBI's findings. It is currently in a vault, in a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility -- or SCIF, if you'd like to use the Washington short hand. And it cannot leave the room.
Senators can't bring their phones into the SCIF when they go to review the documents. If they take notes, the notes must be left in the room when the senator leaves.
Senators are not allowed to discuss or characterize in detail what they've read (though they most certainly will try).
In other words, what's read in the room, stays in the room.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley just issued statement that says there's nothing in the FBI report that "we didn't already know" and, therefore, "it's time to vote."
Read the full statement:
“I’ve now received a committee staff briefing on the FBI’s supplement to Judge Kavanaugh’s background investigation file. There’s nothing in it that we didn’t already know. These uncorroborated accusations have been unequivocally and repeatedly rejected by Judge Kavanaugh, and neither the Judiciary Committee nor the FBI could locate any third parties who can attest to any of the allegations. There’s also no contemporaneous evidence. This investigation found no hint of misconduct and the same is true of the six prior FBI background investigations conducted during Judge Kavanaugh’s 25 years of public service.
“I trust that the career agents of the FBI have done their work independent of political or partisan considerations. That’s exactly what senators from both sides asked for. Now it’s up to senators to fulfill their constitutional duty and make a judgment.
“No one is on trial and the Senate is not a courtroom. But our nation’s tradition of fairness still applies. A presumption of innocence is how the American justice system works, and it should remain our guidepost in the Senate. Abandoning that principle would cut a sad path for the Senate as an institution.
“Here is what we know: Judge Kavanaugh’s former clerks, colleagues and friends from high school to the present acclaim his personal integrity and character. His neighbors and community members recognize his positive contributions to their schools and churches. And his fellow members of the legal profession know him to be a thoughtful and respectful jurist. His judicial record shows that he is fair and rules impartially and without prejudice.
“Fundamentally, we senators ought to wipe away the muck from all the mudslinging and politics and look at this nomination with clear eyes. Judge Kavanaugh is one of the most qualified nominees to ever come before the Senate. He’s served with distinction for twelve years on the nation’s most important circuit court and dedicated himself to serving the American public. We know that he will be an excellent justice because he’s been an excellent judge.
“It’s time to vote. I’ll be voting to confirm Judge Kavanaugh.”
The FBI reached out to ten people, but ultimately conducted nine "comprehensive interviews."
We know, and have reported, that the FBI spoke with the following six people:
- Deborah Ramirez (Yale accuser)
- Mark Judge (Prep classmate of Kavanaugh who Ford says attended the party)
- Leland Keyser (Ford says she attended the party)
- Patrick Smyth (Prep classmate of Kavanaugh who Ford says attended the party)
- Chris Garrett (Prep classmate of Kavanaugh at July 1, 1982 party entered in Kavanaugh’s calendar)
- Tim Gaudette (Prep classmate of Kavanaugh at July 1, 1982 party entered in Kavanaugh’s calendar)
CNN is working to determine the others to whom the FBI spoke or reached out.