CAPITOL HILL - Days ahead of a potential final vote on President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, Senate Republicans and Democrats sparred Tuesday over an ongoing FBI investigation of allegations of sexual misconduct leveled against Kavanaugh.
The weeklong probe is expected to be completed by Friday, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the confirmation vote will occur once senators of both parties have a chance to review the FBI’s conclusions.
“What I can tell you with certainty is that we’ll have an FBI report this week and we’ll have a vote this week,” McConnell told reporters.
Democrats, meanwhile, demanded that the White House divulge its instructions to the FBI in ordering the investigation, that the FBI’s report be made public, and that the bureau’s lead investigators brief senators about their their findings.
“We need to be briefed by the FBI, by the agent in charge,” Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, said. “The FBI must not be handcuffed, and their results should be made public.”
The FBI investigation was launched Friday one day after Christine Blasey Ford told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Kavanaugh assaulted her at a high school party. Kavanaugh angrily denied the charges hours later, accused Democrats of orchestrating a “political hit” against him, and asserted that he never drank so heavily that he was incapacitated or couldn’t remember his actions.
In the days since, one of the nominee’s former classmates at Yale University issued a statement alleging that, as a student, Kavanaugh was "a frequent drinker and a heavy drinker" who often became "belligerent and aggressive" during his binges.
On Monday, President Donald Trump told reporters the FBI had the authority to interview anyone it desired, pushing back against charges by Senate Democrats that the White House is limiting the scope of the investigation.
At the Capitol, Schumer said questions surrounding Kavanaugh extend beyond sexual assault and now encompass his truthfulness and judicial temperament.
“It’s hard to believe what Judge Kavanaugh swore under oath,” Schumer said. “He sure didn’t show the demeanor of a judge at the hearing."
Republicans accused Democrats of attempting to destroy the nominee’s reputation for political gain.
“[Democrats] will not be satisfied unless they have brought down Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination,” McConnell said. “The floodgates of mud and muck opened entirely on Brett Kavanaugh and his family.”
“It’s not fair to Judge Kavanaugh to string this matter along further,” Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas said. “This has become a national embarrassment."
Democrats countered that brief delays in voting on Kavanaugh pale in comparison to Republicans refusing to consider former President Barack Obama’s final Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, for most of 2016.
Republicans hold a 51-49 Senate majority heading into next month’s midterm elections that will determine which political party controls both houses of Congress.
So far, no Democrat has announced support for Kavanaugh and no Republican has declared opposition to him.
Richard Green and Kenneth Schwartz contributed to this report.