A growing list of Republican senators are calling for the findings of an FBI investigation into sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh to be made public following their release.
GOP Senate leaders expect the FBI to provide its supplementary background report as early as Wednesday, allowing them to vote on the nominee Friday or Saturday.
Under its original one-week timeline, the bureau has until Friday to finish its investigation. But Republicans had hoped the FBI would finish its investigation early, allowing them to vote on Kavanaugh by the week’s end. Senators expect the bureau to hand over notes and transcripts for review ahead of their vote.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that the report would be open to review by each senator, but would not be released to the public — a determination that has drawn concerns from Democrats and some Republicans, who say that at least part of the findings should be made public.
“We’ll get an FBI report soon. It will be made available to each senator and only senators will be allowed to look at it,” McConnell told reporters Tuesday. “That’s the way these reports are always handled.”
But some senators have argued that, unless the report is made public, the FBI’s work could be selectively leaked and spun by both sides.
Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) said Wednesday that McConnell should see to it that the FBI report’s findings, or at least a summary, are made public.
“I hope the FBI report is made public. Normally it’s not,” Kennedy said, according to Reuters.
“I personally think that would be a good idea,” Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Tex.) said Tuesday. “In this instance, I don’t know how you can accuse somebody of the terrible things that Judge Kavanaugh has been accused of and have people satisfied without some sort of summary of what the FBI found.”
Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune (S.D.) said that “in these circumstances,” the FBI report would be made public.
Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), who sits on the Judiciary Committee, said he saw no issue with part of the investigation’s findings being made public.
“This is a supplemental background investigation,” Tillis said in statement obtained by The Washington Post. “We should explain to people what that means. They don’t draw conclusions; they gather information. It’s left up to us to draw conclusions.”
“I’m actually of the view that whatever could be made public here, should be. But that would be well outside the normal way these things are treated,” Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), a member of leadership, told reporters.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), on Tuesday, explained that he wanted at least part of the report made public.
“I’m afraid if somehow or another we don’t make [the report] public both sides will be very selective with what they share with y’all,” he told reporters.
But Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has expressed concern that releasing the report publicly could discourage future witnesses from cooperating with the FBI, given the sensitive material of the investigation and interviews with those who prefer to remain confidential.
“I think that if you did anything different than it’s been done in all the years I’ve been in the Senate, you might actually hurt the FBI getting the information they want,” Grassley said in a statement obtained by The Post.
“I’ve been reading FBI reports for 38 years. None of them have ever been made public,” he said.
The White House initially narrowed the scope of the FBI’s investigation into sexual assault allegations leveled against Kavanaugh, NBC News reported Sunday. One day later, the White House reportedly gave the FBI a green light to interview anyone deemed appropriate in its investigation after Democrats criticized the Trump administration for “micromanaging” the bureau.
As of Wednesday, the FBI had not received clear authority from the White House to interview Kavanaugh or Christine Blasey Ford, the first woman to accuse him of sexual assault, according to Bloomberg.