WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House rebuffed Democratic criticism over its handling of an FBI report on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, saying on Thursday it had not micromanaged the agency
or edited the report on allegations of sexual misconduct.
President Donald Trump, pushing to get his nominee to the court confirmed, said in a Twitter post early on Thursday that the allegations against Kavanaugh were “totally uncorroborated.”
The White House sent the FBI report to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee early on Thursday. Senators were poring over the document to determine whether it satisfies their concerns about the nominee.
Some Democrats said the FBI had not interviewed enough people, reflecting the partisan struggle that has developed around the report, and more broadly, over Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
The allegations of sexual misconduct when Kavanaugh was a high school and college student, which he has denied, arose during the confirmation process.
Trump and the Senate Republican leadership are battling to corral enough support for a majority vote for Kavanaugh, a federal appeals court judge who would become a deciding conservative voice on the country’s highest court, while Democrats are in near unanimity against him.
Democratic Senator Chris Coons, who helped initiate the FBI probe, said he was concerned about the scope of the investigation, telling CNN it appeared that a number of important witnesses were not questioned.
White House spokesman Raj Shah said on CNN: “We believe that all the Senate’s questions have been addressed through this supplemental FBI investigation.
“The White House didn’t micromanage the FBI. ... It’s been sent to the Senate, no White House editing,” he said. “Obviously the senators have just begun to read this information but we feel very confident that we will have the votes.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee said lawmakers will review the report before a procedural vote advancing the nomination on Friday.
Christine Blasey Ford, a college professor from California, has accused Kavanaugh of assaulting her in 1982 when they were high school students. Her attorneys said she was not contacted by the FBI for the latest report.
Several people with information related to allegations against Kavanaugh told Reuters they had not heard from the FBI, suggesting its report may be narrower than was desired by some lawmakers who demanded it just days ago.
The FBI report was sent to the White House and Senate just hours after Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took steps Wednesday night to force a procedural vote on the nomination one hour after the Senate convenes on Friday.
McConnell filed a petition for a cloture vote, which if successful would limit debate on the nomination and start the clock ticking on a final 30-hour waiting period before a Senate confirmation vote.
After filing a cloture petition, lawmakers must wait one legislative day before proceeding to a vote, according to Senate rules.
Three Republicans who could be key to whether Kavanaugh is confirmed given the narrow Republican majority in the chamber - Senators Jeff Flake, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski - have criticized Trump for mocking Ford at a political rally in Mississippi on Tuesday.
Ford, who testified last week at a dramatic Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, said she could not remember the precise date or location of the alleged assault or how she got home later, but offered a detailed account of the incident.
Reporting by Brendan O'Brien, Amanda Becker and Richard Cowan; Additional reporting by Nathan Layne, Sarah N. Lynch, Lisa Lambert, Lawrence Hurley and David Alexander; Editing by John Stonestreet, Jeffrey Benkoe and Frances Kerry