3 Republicans Undecided On Kavanaugh After Trump Mocks Woman Alleging Sexual Assault

Oct 3, 2018
Originally published on October 3, 2018 7:37 pm
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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

The FBI is expected to release its supplemental background check of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh late tonight or early tomorrow. Then senators and some top aides will look at it. But looking at it may take some time. Only one copy of the report is being made available to the entire Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell still insists the Senate will vote on the nomination this week.

Joining us to talk about the latest is NPR's Scott Detrow joining us from Capitol Hill. Hi, Scott.

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: Hey there.

SHAPIRO: So the FBI had a full week to do this. They haven't used that entire week. Does that give us any clues about the scope of the report?

DETROW: Well, we've seen several clues that it's likely on the more limited side. The FBI had a week to do this. And as you mentioned, they wrapped it up two days early. We also know that the White House was directing the FBI on how broadly or narrowly it would focus that report, and the White House was able to do that because this is a background investigation, not a criminal probe.

SHAPIRO: So only one copy of this report will be made available to the entire Senate, not one per senator. And each party is going to have one hour to look at it. What do you make of that?

DETROW: I think they're mostly doing it so people like me aren't able to find a copy. Committee leadership wants to make sure this won't leak, so the report is being held in the secure room the Senate uses for confidential information. Only senators and a half dozen or so staffers with security clearances will be allowed in. No notes can come out. Nobody is allowed to talk about it. And this is really frustrating Democrats who say this is not a transparent process and that given how public this has all been, the public should know the conclusions of the report.

SHAPIRO: We know that the FBI has not talked to at least one key witness, Christine Blasey Ford. Her lawyer says she has not been contacted. How do Democrats and Republicans feel about that?

DETROW: Well, a lot of top Republicans are just fine with that. I asked John Cornyn, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, about this as he got into an elevator earlier today.

JOHN CORNYN: I don't know. We heard from them extensively.

DETROW: Referring to last week's public testimony of course. Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley has said something similar. Democrats say that makes no sense, that the whole point of following up was to confirm or dispel what Kavanaugh and Ford had said, so the FBI should follow up and asked about what it learned. Here's Democrat Richard Blumenthal.

RICHARD BLUMENTHAL: The leads are followed. The interviews create additional questions. Sometimes there are re-interviews. That's very common. And that's an investigation. It's got to be more than just check the box - OK, we have their account.

SHAPIRO: At the end of the day, there are three senators who remain undecided. Have they said anything about the investigation and whether not hearing from Kavanaugh or Ford again looks like a problem to them?

DETROW: You know, it's been hard to hear from Jeff Flake, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins about all of this because in a way that really underscores how key they are, every time they step out of their offices, they are absolutely swarmed to the point where Susan Collins has been walking around the Capitol with police protection, which is incredibly rare and just shows how much she's in demand.

They have all said that they wanted a broader report. Jeff Flake said that he wanted a report that answered questions, that didn't just check a box. So I think their reactions tomorrow when they have their turn in the secure room will really tell us a lot about the fate of Brett Kavanaugh and whether or not he's going to end up on the Supreme Court.

SHAPIRO: And do you expect a vote will likely happen this week as the Senate majority leader promises?

DETROW: Yes, likely over the weekend. McConnell has made it very clear he's going to vote this week, repeating that promise multiple times throughout the week.

SHAPIRO: NPR congressional correspondent Scott Detrow, thank you.

DETROW: Sure thing. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.