The FBI indicated Tuesday that it will wrap up its supplemental background investigation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as early as Wednesday, leading Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to vow, "We'll have an FBI report this week, and we'll have a vote this week." The FBI has finished interviewing several key witnesses named by two women accusing Kavanaugh of sexual assault in the early 1980s, but other potential witnesses have lamented that the FBI has not contacted them despite their requests to submit evidence.
There is also disagreement over which parts of the FBI report will be made public, if any. McConnell says the FBI's findings will be available only to senators while colleagues in both parties insist it's politically imperative to make at least part of the report public. Under a 2009 agreement between the White House and Senate Judiciary Committee, only senators and 10 congressional aides with "top secret" clearances are able to review FBI background information for Supreme Court nominees, The New York Times reports, but the White House or Senate could decide to make an exception.
As for McConnell's promise to hold a final vote on Kavanaugh's confirmation this week, it "was as much about bluffing as it was about confidence, giving the nomination an air of inevitability even as five undecided senators will determine Judge Kavanaugh's fate," the Times reports. "Those five — the Republicans Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Jeff Flake of Arizona, and the Democrats Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin III of West Virginia — are refusing to tip their hands." Asked about McConnell's timeline, Murkowski told The Associated Press on Tuesday that McConnell "talked about a vote last week, too." Collins, who was riding with Murkowski in the Senate's underground train, smiled and said, "Good answer."
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