During now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation process in 2018, the FBI was heavily criticized for not interviewing key people after Christine Blasey Ford alleged that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her when they were both high school students. Notably, the FBI failed to interview Blasey Ford herself—which certainly seems like a fairly significant and intentional oversight—as well as Kavanaugh and dozens of people who had come forward as witnesses, including several of Kavanaugh’s classmates at Yale.
At least one Democratic Senator, Rhode Island’s Sheldon Whitehouse, has not forgotten how the FBI dropped the ball, and in a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, Whitehouse called on Garland to help investigate “how, why, and at whose behest” the FBI mounted what Whitehouse called a “fake” investigation into Kavanaugh’s alleged history of sexual misconduct and assault.
In his letter, Whitehouse described a tip line that the FBI set up as a “garbage chute,” where information that was shared with the FBI languished. More details, via the Guardian:
Among the concerns listed in Whitehouse’s letter to Garland are allegations that some witnesses who wanted to share their accounts with the FBI could not find anyone at the bureau who would accept their testimony and that it had not assigned any individual to accept or gather evidence.
“This 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,” Whitehouse said.
He added that, once the FBI decided to create a “tip line”, senators were not given any information on how or whether new allegations were processed and evaluated. While senators’ brief review of the allegations gathered by the tip line showed a “stack” of information had come in, there was no further explanation on the steps that had been taken to review the information, Whitehouse said.
As Whitehouse put it, “This ‘tip line’ appears to have operated more like a garbage chute, with everything that came down the chute consigned without review to the figurative dumpster.”