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Republicans plan careful steps to protect secrecy of FBI report on Brett Kavanaugh

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President Trump mocked Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony against Supreme Court nominee Brett Ka
USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – Republicans are planning a careful choreography for the results of the FBI’s background probe into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, including sending only a single copy to Capitol Hill that will be housed in a safe.  

The FBI report, which officials said will include summaries of interviews about Kavanuagh’s conduct in high school, will first go to the White House and then to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where it will be carried to senators’ offices on request.

Senate Republicans are planning the cautious approach amid a debate over how much of the FBI’s investigation into Kavanaugh’s past – including allegations of sexual assault – should be available for public view. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said only senators will be able to see the results of the FBI’s work. A very small handful of Senate aides may view it as well.

White House officials expect the report as early as Wednesday.

More: FBI could finish Brett Kavanaugh investigation Wednesday

Once the White House receives the report, a single copy will be sent to Capitol Hill, where it will be housed in a safe in the office of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said George Hartmann, a committee spokesman.

Nine staff members are cleared to review the document, in addition to all 100 senators, Hartmann said.   



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President Donald Trump held a packed rally where he touted the renogiated deal with Mexico and Canada and praised his Supreme Court nominee as ‘a good man.’ (Oct. 1)
AP

The report will amount to a background file with separate documents, including interview summaries, officials said. White House officials said they do not expect to comment publicly on the report but may confirm its receipt because of the extraordinary circumstances surrounding Kavanaugh’s nomination.

The Justice Department has referred questions about the probe to the White House. 

The main focus of the investigation has been on accusations raised by Christine Blasey Ford, who says she was sexual assaulted by Kavanaugh while both were in high school 36 years ago. Ford has acknowledged difficulty in remembering details of the episode, including where and when it happened.

The FBI had not contacted Ford as of Wednesday morning, her lawyers said.

Republicans described the steps taken to protect the report as standard, noting a memorandum of understanding dictates the handling of similar files. But a number of Republican senators have said they believe, in this case, that at least some portion of the document should be available for public review.   

More: Brett Kavanaugh: Outside groups rush in with ads as Senate awaits FBI report

It is not clear whether the document will draw conclusions about the allegations, but experts say they think that is unlikely.  

Michael Mukasey, a former U.S. Attorney General under President George W. Bush, said the supplemental FBI background investigation would cover current and credible allegations of misconduct. But the FBI likely won’t try to resolve disputes between conflicting witnesses, and witnesses wouldn’t be tested by polygraph, he said.

Mukasey spoke with reporters on a call organized by Judicial Crisis Network, a conservative group that backs Kavanaugh’s confirmation.  

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“The FBI doesn’t make credibility determinations about ultimate facts,” Mukasey predicted in a conference call Tuesday with reporters. “They simply present the statements of witnesses so that the senators who are the ultimate deciders can make their decision.”

More: ‘It’s a damn sad situation’: Trump mocks Kavanaugh accuser

The report was the result of a dramatic and emotional hearing before the Judiciary Committee last week in which both Ford and Kavanaugh told their stories. Sen. Jeff Flake, an Arizona Republican, voted to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination but called for the reopening of the investigation into his background.

Flake, who is retiring after this year, said the nomination would be “over” if the FBI found he lied to the committee. 



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If the FBI finds any new evidence to refute Brett Kavanaugh’s testimony, experts say that could change the minds of GOP Senators, even though many of them have already made up their minds on whether they want to confirm him to the Supreme Court. (Oct. 1)
AP

Contributing: Bart Jansen and John Fritze

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