During a testy exchange with FBI Director Christopher Wray on Thursday, Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse asked what happened to the roughly 4,500 leads received on a dedicated FBI tip line in the wake of Dr. Ford’s allegations. The answer almost certainly won’t surprise you.
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WHITEHOUSE: “As you know we are now entering the fourth year of a frustrating saga that began with an August 2019 letter from me and Sen. [Chris] Coons regarding the Kavanaugh supplemental background investigation, and I’d like to get that matter wrapped up. First, is it true that after Kavanaugh-related tips were separated from regular tip line traffic, they were forwarded to White House counsel without investigation?”
WRAY: “I apologize in advance that it’s been frustrating for you. We’ve tried to be clear about our process …”
WHITEHOUSE: “I won’t be frustrated if you just answer the question.”
WRAY: “… so when it comes to the tip line, we wanted to make sure that the White House had all the information we have, so when the hundreds of calls started coming in, we gathered those up, reviewed them, and provided them to the White House ...”
WHITEHOUSE: “Without investigation ...”
WRAY: “Uh, we reviewed them and then provided them to …”
WHITEHOUSE: “You reviewed them for purposes of separating from tip line traffic, but did not further investigate the ones that related to Kavanaugh, correct?”
WHITEHOUSE: “Is it also true that in that supplemental BI [background investigation], the FBI took direction from the White House as to whom the FBI would question and even what questions the FBI could ask?”
WRAY: “So it is true that, consistent with the longstanding process that we have had going all the way back to at least the Bush administration, the Obama administration, the Trump administration, and continue to follow currently under the Biden administration, that in a limited supplemental BI, we take direction from the requesting entity, which in this case was the White House, as to what followup they want. That’s the direction we followed. That’s the direction we’ve consistently followed throughout the decades, frankly. You ask specifically about ‘who’ and ‘what ...’”
WHITEHOUSE: “Is it true?”
WRAY: “It is true as to the ‘who.’ I’m not sure as I sit here whether it’s true as to the ‘what’ questions, but it is true as to who we interviewed.”
In a pair of tweets following that testimony, Whitehouse summarized the exchange:
For the nontweeters:
Wray confirms: Kavanaugh tips from tip line were sent to Trump White House without investigation; and Trump White House directed what witnesses FBI would interview.
Here’s a thought: nothing prevented Trump White House from using FBI tip line information to direct FBI investigation away from percipient or corroborating witnesses.
In other words, Trump was determined to shove Kavanaugh down our throats like a piping-hot wad of Arby’s, and he wasn’t about to let the FBI uncover any more embarrassing “gaffes.”
Of course, this isn’t the first time Whitehouse has insisted on transparency when it comes to the FBI’s (and Trump’s) sham Kavanaugh probe. In a letter sent to Wray in July 2021, Sens. Whitehouse, Coons et al. asked what the fuck the FBI was actually doing when they were supposed to be investigating Kavanaugh.
“The admissions in your letter corroborate and explain numerous credible accounts by individuals and firms that they had contacted the FBI with information ‘highly relevant to ... allegations’ of sexual misconduct by Justice Kavanaugh, only to be ignored,” the senators wrote. “If the FBI was not authorized to or did not follow up on any of the tips that it received from the tip line, it is difficult to understand the point of having a tip line at all.”
Au contraire, Sen. Whitehouse. It’s glaringly obvious what that tip line was for: political cover. Trump had his man, and he wasn’t going to back down no matter how many accusers came forward. The only thing that could have scuttled that nomination was a tip from an anonymous informant alleging Kavanaugh once told Squee and PJ that Ivanka was way too hot to ever want to date her dad.
I’d like to say I hope Whitehouse finally gets to the bottom of this mystery, but who are we kidding? It’s pretty clear that he already has.
Watch Whitehouse’s full questioning of Wray below:
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