Unless or until the FBI investigation into Brett Kavanaugh becomes public, we're dependent on senators to get a sense of what's in it. And based on what we've heard so far, especially from Democrats, it doesn't appear as if the report offered any major new details that would be damning to Kavanaugh's story.
Earlier this morning, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, declared that the report contained "no hint of misconduct" and that the allegations against Kavanaugh remained "uncorroborated." By itself, this doesn't tell us much, since barring a shocking development, it's expected that Republicans supporting Kavanaugh's confirmation would want to portray things in the most positive light.
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But the response of the Democrats was far more convincing. Had the FBI unearthed anything, Democrats would be out of the gate claiming that it contains new details that blow Kavanaugh's story out of the water and show Christine Blasey Ford was telling the truth. Instead, what we saw was Democratic leaders complaining about the nature of the investigation.
In a news conference where no questions were taken, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, opened by telling reporters, "What I can say is that the most notable part of this report is what's not in it."
If Democrats think the most notable part is what isn't in it, then there likely isn't anything in it seriously damaging to Kavanaugh or supportive of Ford's account.
Feinstein went on to complain that the report was a "product of an incomplete investigation" and said it appeared the White House "blocked the FBI from doing it's job."
Specifically, she complained that the investigators did not speak to Ford and Kavanaugh, who testified to the committee for hours last week, or other people who according to press accounts say they have useful information.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who said he received a "thorough briefing" on the report, echoed Feinstein, saying, "We had many fears that this was a very limited process that would constrain the FBI from getting all of the facts. Having received a thorough briefing on the documents, those fears have been realized.
Schumer called for a redacted version of the report to be made public and only vaguely said, "I disagree with Grassley's statement that there was no hint of misconduct." But obviously, there's a lot of room for arguments among Republicans and Democrats over what qualifies as a "hint of misconduct" that falls far short of corroboration. And it makes sense that Schumer would want to exploit that ambiguity to insinuate to the media that they're holding back some sort of damaging detail.
Clearly, Democrats were interested in drawing out the FBI investigation as long as possible to push the nomination past the midterms, while Republicans are motivated to wrap it up as quickly as possible. Whether the FBI should have dug deeper is one debate that they'll be having in the coming days and weeks. But at this point, we should be very confident that there was no sort of bombshell in the FBI report that corroborates Ford's account or damages Kavanaugh's credibility.
[More: Kavanaugh on track for confirmation. Flake: 'no additional' corroboration. Collins: 'very thorough' FBI report]