Republicans were preemptively reacting to the FBI’s investigation into several sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh this week, before the bureau’s final report had even been released.
Most defended the judge, saying they were prepared to confirm him, no matter what.
On Wednesday night, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced he had filed cloture on Kavanaugh’s nomination and planned to hold a vote on Kavanaugh Friday.
“There will be plenty of time for Members to review and be briefed on this supplemental material before a Friday cloture vote,” he tweeted.
The FBI’s report on Kavanaugh was not due to be released until the early morning hours Thursday.
I just filed cloture on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. There will be plenty of time for Members to review and be briefed on this supplemental material before a Friday cloture vote.
— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) October 4, 2018
The report was finalized a little after midnight Thursday, but senators on the Judiciary Committee were not scheduled to view it until later in the morning. Around 4 a.m., Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), chairman of the committee, announced he had received the FBI file and that senators would be able to review the information soon.
Supplemental FBI background file for Judge Kavanaugh has been received by @senjudiciary Ranking Member Feinstein & I have agreed to alternating EQUAL access for senators to study content from additional background info gathered by non-partisan FBI agents 1/3
— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) October 4, 2018
Grassley later released a statement, after viewing the file, saying he would be supporting Kavanaugh on Friday.
“There’s nothing in it that we didn’t already know… It’s time to vote,” he said. “I’ll be voting to confirm Judge Kavanaugh.”
GRASSLEY: "There’s nothing in it that we didn’t already know… It’s time to vote. I’ll be voting to confirm Judge Kavanaugh.” pic.twitter.com/h1zUeIDP3F
— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) October 4, 2018
Republicans in general spent much of this week spinning the results of the days-long investigation, prior to the report’s release.
On Fox News Wednesday night, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said he had heard “a summary of a summary” and that he had “never felt more confident.”
“The FBI background check is gonna hold up,” he said, before speaking directly to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and encouraging him to vote for Kavanaugh.
.@LindseyGrahamSC on Kavanaugh’s confirmation chance: “I’ve never felt more confident, because I’ve been told a summary of a summary: The FBI background check is gonna hold up.” @foxnewsnight https://t.co/CUz49eM0m3 pic.twitter.com/gTaN7mrpZ5
— Fox News (@FoxNews) October 4, 2018
“There is nothing in his background checks that suggest anything consistent with the allegations against him,” Graham said Wednesday night. “If there had been, they would have said something about it.”
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said Wednesday night, before reviewing the report, that the vote to confirm Kavanaugh would be one of the “most meaningful” of his lifetime.
This will be one of the most meaningful votes of our lifetime.
Will Senators vote for the politics of personal destruction, and the most reprehensible political stratagem in recent memory?
Or will the vote to confirm an eminently qualified nominee?https://t.co/O47iHH5Wsr
— Senator Hatch Office (@senorrinhatch) October 4, 2018
Hatch also argued Thursday morning that the fact that the FBI investigation did not include an interview with Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford was fine.
“We have everything we need to evaluate the accusations and vote,” his office tweeted.
The party attendees Dr. Ford has named have given sworn statements that they cannot corroborate her story.
Along with last week's testimony, the Senate and FBI's background investigations, we have everything we need to evaluate the accusations and vote.https://t.co/zQKwnce0mz
— Senator Hatch Office (@senorrinhatch) October 4, 2018
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) was singing a similar tune early Thursday morning, before reviewing the report. “To date, the named witnesses deny knowledge of Dr. Ford’s allegations against Judge Kavanaugh & no independent corroboration of allegations has emerged,” he wrote. “This morning I will review the new FBI report. It if provides no corroborating evidence I will vote to confirm Kavanaugh tomorrow.”
To date,the named witnesses deny knowledge of Dr. Ford’s allegations against Judge Kavanaugh & no independent corroboration of allegations has emerged. This morning I will review new FBI report. If it provides no corroborating evidence I will vote to confirm #Kavanaugh tomorrow.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) October 4, 2018
The president also defended Kavanaugh on Twitter Thursday morning, though it was unclear at the time whether the White House had actually reviewed the report itself, in full.
The harsh and unfair treatment of Judge Brett Kavanaugh is having an incredible upward impact on voters. The PEOPLE get it far better than the politicians. Most importantly, this great life cannot be ruined by mean & despicable Democrats and totally uncorroborated allegations!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 4, 2018
“This great life cannot be ruined by mean & despicable Democrats and totally uncorroborated allegations!” he tweeted.
Notably, none of the allegations against Kavanaugh are uncorroborated.
Last Thursday, both Ford and Kavanaugh testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Ford testified that Kavanaugh attempted to rape her at a “gathering” in high school. She said Kavanaugh forced himself on her, groped her over her clothes, and tried to pull off her clothing. When she tried to scream, he then covered her mouth with his hand and turned up the music in the room to muffle her cries. She said during her testimony that she believed Kavanaugh might accidentally kill her.
The Washington Post corroborated Ford’s allegations with therapist notes from 2012, and Ford’s husband also said she had told him years earlier about the alleged assault.
A second woman, Deborah Ramirez, told The New Yorker that, at a party in college, Kavanaugh thrust his penis into her face against her wishes, causing her to touch it. A number of other people at the party told the magazine they remember the incident.
A third woman, Julie Swetnick, says she was gang raped at a party where Kavanaugh was present, stopping short of directly implicating him in the attack. She wrote in a sworn affidavit that Kavanaugh was among a group of boys with whom she associated, who she claimed frequently spiked women’s drinks or drugged them in order to rape them.
Kavanaugh has repeatedly denied all of the accusations against him. Though the FBI investigation was charged with investigating the claims, the probe was severely restricted by Senate Republicans and the White House early on.
The bureau was initially instructed to only speak to a small handful of people: two high school friends of Kavanaugh’s, Mark Judge and P.J. Smyth; Leland Keyser, a friend of Ford’s; Ford herself; and Ramirez. The investigation was finished in less than a week, and Ford’s attorneys confirmed to reporters that the FBI never reached out to question Ford as part of the investigation.