The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said that the FBI investigation of allegations against Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh found "no hint of misconduct."
Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) was one of several Republicans who reviewed the FBI report early on Oct. 4, after the White House forwarded the document to the Senate.
“This investigation found no hint of misconduct and the same is true of the six prior FBI background investigations conducted during Judge Kavanaugh’s 25 years of public service,” Grassley said Oct.4. “I trust that the career agents of the FBI have done their work independent of political or partisan considerations. That’s exactly what senators from both sides asked for.
It’s time to vote," Grassley added. "I’ll be voting to confirm Judge Kavanaugh.”
Senate Republicans and Democrats will take turns reviewing the report, which is the result of a supplementary investigation the bureau started over the weekend. The first procedural vote on the confirmation is set for Oct. 5.
In an apparent bid to further delay the confirmation, Democrats are already describing the FBI probe as insufficient. The White House countered such claims, pointing out that the Kavanaugh confirmation process included "the most comprehensive review of a Supreme Court nominee in history."
President Donald Trump, who nominated Kavanaugh to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, stood by his nominee and criticized the Democrats who he says are obstructing the confirmation process.
Republicans are pushing to confirm Kavanaugh within days, with both parties viewing the outcome of the confirmation as crucial for the Nov. 6 midterm elections.
Democrats argue that the FBI didn't interview key witnesses, including Christine Ford, the first woman to accuse Kavanaugh of misconduct. Ford told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 27 under oath that she has relayed her entire account.
Republicans are confident that they have enough votes to confirm Kavanaugh. The Trump administration is "fully confident the Senate will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court,” White House spokesman Raj Shah said.
Several women accused Kavanaugh of misconduct after the judiciary committee concluded the judge's confirmation hearings. None of the witnesses identified by the women have corroborated the allegations. Kavanaugh maintains his innocence.
Procedural VoteThe FBI report was sent to the White House and Senate just hours after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R- Ky.) took steps on Oct. 3 to force a procedural vote on the nomination one hour after the Senate convenes on Oct. 5.
McConnell filed a petition for the procedural vote to limit debate on the nomination and start the clock ticking on a final 30-hour waiting period before a final Senate confirmation vote.
While the first vote is only procedural, it will force senators who haven't revealed how they will vote to perhaps show their hand. Among the undecided lawmakers are Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.)
Republican senators were meeting in a secure room in the U.S. Capitol to receive a briefing on the FBI report from the panel's Republican staff. They won't be able to take notes or remove the report from the room. Democratic senators also huddled, preparing to hold a news conference.