Whitehouse Suggests Blasey Ford Investigation ‘Just as Flawed’ as Larry Nassar Probe

POLITICS & POLICY
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.) attend a hearing in Washington, D.C., April 28, 2021.
(Tom Williams/Reuters)

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.) on Wednesday again raised questions about the legitimacy of the FBI’s 2018 background check into Brett Kavanaugh, saying it may have been “just as flawed” as its investigation into former U.S.A. Gymnastics team doctor and convicted pedophile Larry Nassar.

He used a hearing on the FBI’s handling the Nassar probe to press FBI director Christopher Wray over the bureau’s investigation into Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers. 

“It strikes me very strongly as we sit here today, and as we heard the powerful testimony earlier this morning, that the last time a woman came forward in this committee to testify to her allegations of sexual assault in her childhood, the witness was Christine Blasey Ford,” Whitehouse said.

“It appeared to me then, and it appears to me now that her testimony was swept under the rug in a confirmation stampede,” he added. “It is very possible that the FBI investigation of her allegations was just as flawed, just as constrained, just as inappropriate, as the investigation in this case.”

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He went on to say that his repeated requests for more information about the FBI’s investigation into Ford’s allegations have been ignored for two years before he finally received a response yesterday.

“Not coincidentally, I suspect, on the eve of your appearance today,” Whitehouse told FBI director Christopher Wray.

The letter said that the FBI is working to “identify and make available certain relevant documents,” the senator said.

He ended his comments by saying, “Let’s just make sure there’s wasn’t also a botched handling of another allegation in this committee with regard to Dr Ford.”

Democratic lawmakers have continued to place pressure upon Wray over the bureau’s handling of the Kavanaugh probe, including the FBI’s claim that it lacked the authority to the conduct a deeper background investigation into the then-nominee.

The bureau has claimed that a 2010 Memorandum of Understanding prevented it from performing a deeper investigation into allegations of misconduct.

The FBI said in its letter to Whitehouse and Senator Chris Coons (D., Del.) that it did not have the authority under the MOU to “unilaterally conduct further investigative activity absent instructions from the requesting entity.”

The bureau claims it would have needed explicit instructions from the Trump White House to investigate further under the 2010 guidelines on how such investigations should be conducted.

Ahead of the hearing on Wednesday, Whitehouse told the Guardian that the director “ought to be ready to answer my questions about this episode — I won’t stop asking until he does.

“In its years-late response to our questions, the FBI leaned hard on the notion that this MOU limited its authority to be the FBI and investigate wrongdoing,” Whitehouse said. “Now that we have the MOU, it’s even harder to understand the Bureau’s excuses for ignoring credible information it received.”

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