- The FBI said it received 4,500 tips in 2018 regarding Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
- The agency said they only interviewed ten people and that “relevant” tips were passed to Trump’s White House.
- A group of Democratic senators accused the FBI of ignoring the tip line and are demanding more answers.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
A group of Democratic senators is asking for more answers after the Federal Bureau of Investigation shared details on its handling of a supplemental background investigation into Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh when he was a nominee.
Jill Tyson, assistant director of the FBI, said in a letter on June 30 that the agency had received 4,500 tips regarding Kavanaugh and that it turned over “relevant tips” to the White House Counsel, which would have been Don McGahn at the time in 2018. Tyson also said only ten individuals were interviewed, despite thousands of tips.
Tyson’s letter was made public Thursday by Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse and Chris Coons, who said it was a response to a letter they sent in August 2019 asking for answers about the investigation.
“This long-delayed answer confirms how badly we were spun by Director Wray and the FBI in the Kavanaugh background investigation and hearing,” Whitehouse said on Twitter Thursday, taking aim at FBI Director Chris Wray. He said it “confirms my suspicions that the ‘tip line’ was not real and that FBI tip line procedures were not followed.”
“Wray said they followed procedures, he meant the ‘procedure’ of doing whatever Trump White House Counsel told them to do. That’s misleading as hell,” he added.
A spokesperson for the FBI declined to comment when reached by Insider. An email sent to the Supreme Court seeking comment on behalf of Kavanaugh did not receive a response.
According to the FBI’s letter, the FBI passed the tips to the White House because that was the entity that requested the supplemental background check on September 13, 2018. The request was prompted by sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh that surfaced around that time. Kavanaugh has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
Tyson said the FBI had already conducted an initial background check that was completed in July 2018 and included interviews with 49 people.
Whitehouse and Coons were joined by Sens. Dick Durbin, Patrick Leahy, Richard Blumenthal, Mazie Hirono, and Cory Booker in requesting more answers from the FBI.
“If the FBI was not authorized to or did not follow up on any of the tips that it received from the tip line, it is difficult to understand the point of having a tip line at all,” they wrote, saying the agency’s letter confirmed “the FBI was politically constrained by the Trump White House.”