How Exactly Are 100 Senators Sharing a Single Copy of the FBI’s Kavanaugh Report?
The FBI’s report on its Brett Kavanaugh investigation is the hottest document in Washington, but there’s only a single copy for 100 senators to share.
That means many of the senators ended up listening to staffers read aloud the 46-page report, which contained 11 accounts of FBI agents’ interviews with nine witnesses related to sexual assault and misconduct allegations against President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee. One additional stack of papers contained reports to the FBI tip line.
The single copy, kept in a secure room accessible only to senators and a few staff, is intended to protect against leaks of the FBI documents.
“There were four of us in a corner,” said Republican Bob Corker of Tennessee, reading sections of the report while other senators listened to the report being read in full by staffers with the proper security clearances.
The FBI’s report, which was delivered to Capitol Hill in the wee hours of Thursday morning, is being kept in a secure room known as a SCIF—a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility—located in the underground visitor’s complex in the Capitol.
Making things even stranger, Republicans and Democrats had to take turns reviewing the document, with one party’s members getting an hour in the room, and the other getting the next hour, and so on.
The last undecided Democrat, Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, said while leaving the secure room Thursday that he would have to come back Friday because he’d been kicked out so Republicans could have their turn. A yes vote by Manchin would mean the GOP could afford to lose two votes from its party members.
Democrats complained loudly about the process, saying it made it tough to evaluate the FBI’s findings.
“One copy of the FBI report. No more than an hour to review it. No ability for any follow up. Then a rushed vote,” Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut wrote on Twitter.
The Senate plans to hold a procedural vote Friday on Kavanaugh’s nomination, and Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley said he expected Kavanaugh to be confirmed on Saturday.
It also appears increasingly unlikely the public will get to see the FBI’s findings. Some Republicans had said portions of the report should be released, but Corker said Thursday he no longer thought it was worth making public.