Whitehouse details just how badly the FBI operated in his letter: The FBI did not “seek corroborating or inconsistent evidence” of Blasey Ford’s allegations; witnesses to other allegations that surfaced “‘tried in vain to reach the F.B.I. on their own'” but “could find no one at the Bureau willing to accept their testimony”; a tip line eventually set up for additional witnesses appears to have been set up to answer senators’ concerns, but was basically nonfunctional. Whitehouse’s list on just the ignored witnesses is pretty damning:
At least two law firms contacted the FBI with the names of credible witnesses who had information pertaining to the investigations. One firm provided names of potential witnesses that had information “highly relevant to … allegations” of misconduct by Judge Kavanaugh. The other firm’s letter recounted how counsel for a witness with whom agents had met provided the FBI with “more than twenty additional witnesses likely to have relevant information” and included an affidavit from a credible witness. Max Stier, the widely respected president of the Partnership for Public Service, and a college classmate of Mr. Kavanaugh, offered specific corroborating evidence, but the FBI refused to interview Mr. Stier.
On top of that, when Judiciary Committee members “made inquiries we faced the same experience: the FBI had assigned no person to accept or gather evidence.” This, Whitehouse writes, “was unique behavior in my experience, as the Bureau is usually amenable to information and evidence; but in this matter the shutters were closed, the drawbridge drawn up, and there was no point of entry by which members of the public or Congress could provide information to the FBI. Senator Coons asked for a clear procedure at the time, to no avail.”
When after all these attempts by potential witnesses and senators to get the FBI’s attention failed, the “tip line” was set up, but Whitehouse writes that the judiciary committee “received no explanation of how, or whether, those allegations were processed and evaluated,” and were eventually given “only highly restricted access, over intermittent one-hour windows, to review various materials the FBI had gathered.” That was a “stack of information,” he writes, but there was no indication that any of the tops were actually reviewed. “This ‘tip line’ appears to have operated more like a garbage chute,” he writes, “with everything that came down the chute consigned without review to the figurative dumpster.”
Since the Kavanaugh hearings, Whitehouse writes, Wray has stonewalled lingering questions from committee members. For example, in July 2019 Wray “testified that he had met with Bureau personnel to ensure that the Kavanaugh background investigation was ‘consistent with our long-standing policies, practices, and procedures for background investigations,'” Whitehouse says. “But Director Wray has refused to answer Congressional inquiries about whether that was actually the case.” The questions senators submitted in writing after that hearing “remain unanswered today, as does Senator Coons’ and my letter of August 1, 2019.”
“If standard procedures were violated, and the Bureau conducted a fake investigation rather than a sincere, thorough and professional one, that in my view merits congressional oversight to understand how, why, and at whose behest and with whose knowledge or connivance, this was done,” Whitehouse writes. He wants Garland to get to the bottom of it. Whitehouse has plenty of unfinished business with Kavanaugh, but this inquiry seems to be more about Wray and his ongoing fitness to serve as FBI director. “If … the ‘investigation’ was conducted with drawbridges up and a fake ‘tip line’ and that was somehow ‘by the book,’ as Director Wray claimed, that would raise serious questions about the ‘book’ itself,” Whitehouse writes. “It cannot and should not be the policy of the FBI to not follow up on serious allegations of misconduct during background check investigations.”
The other unfinished business of the Kavanaugh hearings that Whitehouse was keen to pursue at the time was what in the hell was going on with his finances. How did Kavanaugh manage to pay off hundreds of thousands in credit card debt between May 2017 and his nomination in July 2018, and on top of that pay $92,000 in country club fees, and pay the $10,500-a-year tuition for his two kids in private school and make payments on the $815,000 mortgage he had for his $1.2+ million home? Whether Whitehouse eventually is going to seek answers to those questions isn’t clear at the moment. But inquiring minds sure as hell would like to know.
For now, if he gets to how or why FBI Director Wray—who Biden really should replace—managed to so completely botch the Kavanaugh vetting process, it will be a start. Whitehouse has proven to be a dogged watchdog of how the judiciary is being undermined by the forces of conservative dark money groups. By all appearances, he wants to know if those dark money influences had or have the power to sway the FBI.