September 30, 2018

Maybe it's time to stop praising Jeff Flake for his milquetoast demand for the FBI to reopen their background investigation into sexual assault allegations by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

There was no way that the Republican majority or Donald Trump were about to let any of the things that they have so desperately tried to keep quashed out in the open. While the attorneys for second accuser Deborah Ramirez have put out a statement that the FBI has made contact with Ramirez to interview her, other critical areas which would impeach Kavanaugh's claims have been limited by the White House.

According to multiple sources, the White House has given the bureau a list of witnesses it is permitted to interview and topics it is permitted to ask about. Christine Blasey Ford and Debbie Ramirez’s allegations will be investigated; Julie Swetnick’s will not. What’s more, the FBI will not be investigating Kavanaugh’s college drinking or the way he described it in his testimony, despite the fact that his Yale classmates are coming out of the woodwork to tell the country that he was a “sloppy drunk” who is lying about his past. Kavanaugh has categorically denied all of the sexual assault allegations, and has also testified under oath that the phrase “Beach Week Ralph Club—Biggest Contributor” in his high school yearbook referred to his difficulties with spicy food.

The White House’s constraints on the investigation will have real consequences when it comes to the legitimacy of whatever information it digs up. For example, while the FBI will question Mark Judge, who Christine Blasey Ford alleges was in the room when Kavanaugh assaulted her, they won’t be allowed to seek corroborating evidence like Judge’s employment records. (Ford recalled running into Judge at his job at Safeway after the assault; determining when he was working there might help put a date on the party she describes.) It’s also unclear what recourse would be open to investigators if one of the witnesses they are allowed to interview gives them a promising lead to follow up on.

Gosh, who wouldathunk they would essentially neuter the whole investigation?

In the interest of fairness, Donald Trump took to Twitter last night to deny any limitation.

But in the interest of common sense and intelligence, nothing that Trump says should be taken as a truthful statement until confirmed by another source.

Now, the ignoring of third accuser Julie Swetnick may have everything to do with her attorney, Michael Avenatti, a very particular thorn in Trump's side. But since the White House has said that Trump's tweets can be viewed (albeit when convenient for them) as presidential statements, I'd hope that the embattled FBI will take that as permission to follow up on each and every thing.

And if they don't, will this lip service to an actual investigation be enough to assuage those undecided senators? Make sure they know it's not enough for you.

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