Friend of Christine Blasey Ford reportedly told the FBI mutual friends urged her to clarify Kavanaugh statement
In what could be the first leak from the tightly guarded FBI report on sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, The Wall Street Journal reported early Friday that one of the FBI witnesses said she felt pressured by allies of accuser Christine Blasey Ford to revisit her initial statement on Ford's account of attempted rape at a party in high school. "People familiar with the matter" told the Journal that Leland Keyser, a friend of Ford's, informed FBI investigators that a mutual friend, Monica McLean, had urged her to clarify her statement.
On Sept. 23, Keyser's lawyers sent the Judiciary Committee a statement saying she didn't remember attending any party with Kavanaugh, though Keyser also told The Washington Post the same day that she believed Ford. On Sept. 29, two days after Kavanaugh told the committee that Keyser's statement "refuted" Ford's allegation, Keyser's lawyer sent the committee a statement saying that while she does not recall the alleged incident, "Ms. Keyser does not refute Dr. Ford's account, and she has already told the press that she believes Dr. Ford's account."
This report suggests that friends of Ford, like Kavanaugh and his allies, were quietly lobbying old classmates to bolster their version of events. In supplemental materials delivered Thursday, the FBI gave senators text messages from McLean to Keyser, the Journal reports. McLean's lawyer said, "Any notion or claim that Ms. McLean pressured Leland Keyser to alter Ms. Keyser's account of what she recalled concerning the alleged incident between Dr. Ford and Brett Kavanaugh is absolutely false."
A person close to Keyser and Ford told the Journal that she understood mutual friends had contacted Keyser to warn her that her statement was being used by Republicans against Ford, and that if that wasn't her intention, she should clarify the statement, but the friends hadn't "pressured" Keyser. There's no indication Ford or her lawyers were involved, the Journal says. Peter Weber
The White House has examined interviews conducted by the FBI into allegations that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted two women in the early 1980s and "has found no corroboration of the allegations," The Wall Street Journal reported late Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter. "It was unclear whether the White House, which for weeks has raised doubts about the allegations, had completed its review of the FBI interview reports," the Journal says, and the "senators who will decide Mr. Kavanaugh's fate are set to review the findings on Thursday, and some of them may draw different conclusions."
Republicans, who agreed to the investigation only after a few conflicted Republicans demanded it, say that if the FBI's supplemental background investigation doesn't include any bombshell revelations, Kavanaugh should be confirmed. Democrats and potential witnesses are complaining the the investigation was too constrained to be credible.
"President Trump has insisted publicly he was not curtailing the FBI probe," The Washington Post reports. "But privately, the White House restricted the FBI from delving deeply into Kavanaugh's youthful drinking and exploring whether he had lied to Congress about his alcohol use, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity."
The Post could only confirm six witnesses interviewed by the FBI, including one of his accusers, Deborah Ramirez, but not the other, Christine Blasey Ford. "We are profoundly disappointed that after the tremendous sacrifice she made in coming forward, those directing the FBI investigation were not interested in seeking the truth," Ford's lawyers said Wednesday night. Kavanaugh himself was reportedly not interviewed either.
Only one copy of the FBI's report will be available for viewing, and senators will view it in shifts in a secure location on Thursday. Senate GOP leaders say it will not be made public. Peter Weber
The FBI investigation into sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is over, and several potential witnesses who approached the FBI and said they had information to share say they're frustrated they were unable to get through to anyone.
Several of those people told The New Yorker they sent statements to the FBI and senators hoping they would listen to them before the investigation finished. Deborah Ramirez, who says Kavanaugh exposed himself when they were at a party at Yale, told The New Yorker she feels like she's being "silenced" because she gave the FBI a list of people "who were key to corroborating my story," but they were not contacted.
One of Kavanaugh's suitemates, Kenneth Appold, said he heard about the alleged incident around the time it took place, and is "100 percent certain" he was told Kavanaugh was involved. "I can corroborate Debbie's account," he said. "I believe her, because it matches the same story I heard 35 years ago, although the two of us have never talked." He contacted the FBI but never heard back, so he submitted a statement through the bureau's website.
A former Georgetown Prep classmate says he often heard Kavanaugh talking about Renate Schroeder Dolphin — Kavanaugh told senators that the "Renate Alumni" references he and his friends included in the yearbook was a platonic term of "endearment" — and the clear inference was that "Renate was the girl that everyone passed around for sex." He also said he heard Kavanaugh sing a crude rhyme about her, which he found "sickening." This man submitted a sworn declaration to the FBI, as did Angela Walker, a classmate of Dolphin's. She told The New Yorker she had a friend who attended Georgetown Prep, and he warned her during a house party "not to go upstairs, where the bedrooms were, cautioning me that it could be dangerous." Read more from these potential witnesses at The New Yorker. Catherine Garcia
The FBI could wrap up its Kavanaugh investigation on Wednesday, and everything else is up for debate
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." Peter Weber
The FBI interviewed more of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's friends from high school on Tuesday as part of its investigation into allegations of sexual assault made against the judge, people with knowledge of the matter told The Washington Post.
One of the people interviewed was Tim Gaudette, who attended Georgetown Prep with Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh brought his old calendars to the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last week, and noted that on July 1, 1982, he went to a party at Gaudette's house, which was of interest to members of the panel. The FBI also finished an interview with Mark Judge, another Georgetown Prep friend, who Christine Blasey Ford said was in the room when Kavanaugh allegedly sexually assaulted her when they were both teenagers.
The FBI was given one week to investigate allegations made by Ford and Deborah Ramirez, who says Kavanaugh exposed himself to her during a party when they were at Yale. The investigation is being led by the Security Division of the FBI, which is part of the Human Resources branch, and on Sunday, Ramirez was interviewed by two agents. Her attorney, John Clune, tweeted that it was a "detailed and productive interview," and Ramirez gave the agents the names and contact information of more than 20 witnesses.
Clune said as of Tuesday, he does not believe any of those people have been called. "Though we appreciated the agents who responded on Sunday, we have great concern that the FBI is not conducting — or not being permitted to conduct — a serious investigation," he said. Ford's attorneys also expressed bewilderment at the fact that FBI agents haven't contacted their client. The FBI has until Friday to finish the inquiry. Catherine Garcia
On Tuesday, Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans emailed hundreds of journalists a statement from Dennis Ketterer, a former TV meteorologist in Utah, who says he was in a brief relationship with Julie Swetnick, one of the women accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct. In his statement, Ketterer says that during his weeks-long 1993 relationship with Swetnick, she once told him she enjoyed group sex, had engaged in such activity in high school, and never mentioned Kavanaugh or "said anything about being sexually assaulted, raped, gang-raped, or having sex against her will."
A congressional committee releasing "a statement that included such explicit and unconfirmed details about a member of the public" is "unprecedented," The Washington Post reports. Swetnick said in a sworn affidavit that Kavanaugh had been present at a house party in 1982 where she was the victim of a gang rape. The Senate Republicans said Ketterer's statement was provided "under penalty of felony" — an odd phrase — and did not explain how it contradicted Swetnik's affidavit.
Her attorney, Michael Avenatti, released a statement on Tuesday from another woman who says she "witnessed firsthand Brett Kavanaugh, together with others, 'spike' the 'punch' at house parties I attended with Quaaludes and/or grain alcohol" with the understood "purpose of making girls more likely to engage in sexual acts and less likely to say 'No.'" Avenatti called Ketterer's statement a "fabricated" "piece of garbage" and urged the FBI to look into both his and Swenick's allegations.
In an interview with the Post, Ketterer — a Republican who unsuccessfully ran for Congress in Maryland as a Democrat in 1996 — says he approached Sen. Orrin Hatch's (R-Utah) office Friday after discussing his memories with leaders of his Mormon church. He said "this has nothing to do with party," he doesn't know Kavanaugh, and he only wanted to "do the right thing" and "find a back-channel way to Mrs. Kavanaugh" because he sympathized with the nominee's wife, Ashley. Peter Weber
Attorneys for Christine Blasey Ford sent a letter to FBI officials on Tuesday, asking for agents to interview her as part of their investigation into allegations of sexual assault made against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Politico obtained a copy of the letter, sent by Debra Katz and Michael Bromwich. "It is inconceivable that the FBI could conduct a thorough investigation of Dr. Ford's allegations without interviewing her, Judge Kavanaugh, or the witnesses we have identified in our letters to you," they wrote. The attorneys also asked to set up a phone call with officials to discuss the inquiry, and said while they gave the FBI "a series of emails and letters in which we identified witnesses and evidence that would likely assist the FBI in its investigation," they have not received a response.
The FBI was given a week to complete the investigation, and it could be finished as soon as Wednesday, Politico reports. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday said the FBI's final report will only be available to senators; Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has called for the public release of a redacted version. Catherine Garcia
An attorney for Mark Judge, Barbara Van Gelder, said her client has been interviewed by the FBI as part of the investigation into allegations of sexual assault made against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Christine Blasey Ford said that she was assaulted by Kavanaugh when they were teenagers, and that Judge, one of Kavanaugh's friends and classmates, was in the room when it happened. On Monday, Van Gelder, released a statement saying Judge "has been interviewed by the FBI but his interview has not been completed. We request your patience as the FBI completes its investigation." Kavanaugh has denied the allegation. Catherine Garcia