Democrats outraged after the FBI said it got more than 4,500 tips about Brett Kavanaugh – and referred the ‘relevant’ ones to the Trump White House

brett kavanaugh
Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

  • 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.”

Read more: FBI director Chris Wray barely survived the Trump era. Now he’s working with Biden’s attorney general taking on domestic terrorism and probing Trump allies.

“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.”

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Elizabeth Warren wants to investigate Warren Buffett and other billionaires’ tax practices – and probe the banks and wealth managers behind them

Warren Buffett
Warren Buffett.

  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren criticized Warren Buffett’s tax practices in an open letter.
  • The senator wants an investigation into how banks and wealth managers enable tax avoidance.
  • ProPublica recently reported how Buffett and other billionaires minimize their tax bills.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Billionaires aren’t paying their fair share of taxes, and the banks and wealth managers enabling them should be investigated, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said in an open letter on Wednesday.

Warren and Whitehouse wrote to Ron Wyden, the chairman of the Senate’s finance committee, after ProPublica obtained the tax records of many ultra-wealthy Americans and published some of its findings.

The lawmakers highlighted the non-profit journalism outlet’s “deeply troubling allegations” that billionaires have borrowed huge sums against their companies’ stock to fund their lavish lifestyles, then deducted the interest on those loans from their taxable income, meaning they’ve paid zero federal income tax in some years. Borrowing also spares them from having to sell stock and incur capital-gains taxes.

The senators called out Warren Buffett, the famed investor and Berkshire Hathaway CEO, for paying taxes equivalent to less than 0.1% of the $24 billion increase in his wealth in 2018. They also noted that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos claimed a $4,000 child tax credit and reported a loss on his tax return in 2011, when he was worth $18 billion.

“This tax avoidance by the nation’s wealthiest individuals is profoundly unfair,” Warren and Whitehouse wrote. The pair argued that billionaires shortchanging the government prevents it from investing in education, healthcare, infrastructure, and the environment. It also exacerbates inequality, distorts the US economy, and results in an unfair tax burden for low-income and middle-class families, they added.

While the vast majority of the ultra-wealthy’s tax practices are legal, they allow those individuals to “reap billions from their investments and live lives of privilege that are beyond the imagination of most families,” the lawmakers said.

Warren and Whitehouse called on Wyden and his committee to investigate the matter, hold hearings, and craft new laws to prevent tax avoidance. In particular, the pair urged them to investigate the large financial institutions that provide large, cheap, stock-backed loans to the super rich, letting them live on borrowed money instead of taxable income.

While the senators singled out Buffett, there’s no indication the investor borrows money to fund his relatively modest lifestyle, or has ever paid zero federal income tax. ProPublica said the billionaire minimizes his tax bill by not paying a dividend and keeping his wealth in Berkshire stock. Yet his shareholders have overwhelmingly voted against a dividend, and long-term stock ownership is a key element of Buffett’s investing philosophy.

Moreover, Buffett has called for higher taxes on the wealthy, and recently reached the halfway point in his goal of gifting 99% of his fortune to good causes.

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