FACT CHECK: Did Kavanaugh Refuse To Submit To An FBI Investigation Over Sexual Assault Allegations?

Emily Larsen | Fact Check Reporter

Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren said in a tweet Friday that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh refused to submit to an FBI investigation over recent sexual assault allegations.

“Of course we need an FBI investigation before voting. So far, Brett Kavanaugh has refused over and over again to submit to one,” Warren said in the tweet.

Verdict: False

Kavanaugh indicated that he would cooperate with any investigative actions that the Senate Judiciary Committee wanted to pursue, including an FBI investigation.

Fact Check:

The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing Sept. 27 to address a sexual assault allegation from Christine Blasey Ford, a psychology professor at Palo Alto University who said that Kavanaugh tried to remove her clothes and put his hand over her mouth at a house party when they were in high school in the early 1980s.

Kavanaugh also faces allegations from Deborah Ramirez, who attended Yale University with Kavanaugh and alleged that he exposed himself to her at a dorm party when they were freshmen, and Julie Swetnick, who claimed that Kavanaugh attended parties in high school where women were gang-raped.

The FBI conducts background checks on Supreme Court nominees, but had completed its investigation into Kavanaugh before the allegations were revealed. Democratic senators on the committee repeatedly asked Kavanaugh at the hearing whether he would support or call for the FBI to reopen its investigation, a request that needed to come from the White House.

While Kavanaugh did not directly say that he would ask for an investigation, he did not “refuse” to submit to one. He indicated that he would support and cooperate with any actions that the committee wanted to take. (RELATED: Have Multiple Allegations Against Kavanaugh Been Corroborated?)

“And if you’re very confident of your position, and you appear to be, why aren’t you also asking the FBI to investigate these claims?” Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein asked.

“Senator, I’ll do whatever the committee wants,” Kavanaugh responded. He noted that if the FBI reopened its background investigation to look into the claims, it would not reach a conclusion about whether the allegations were true.

Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin and Kamala Harris also pressed Kavanaugh about whether he would support an FBI investigation. Kavanaugh again said that he would do whatever the committee wants.

DURBIN: Judge Kavanaugh, will you support an FBI investigation right now?

KAVANAUGH: I — I will do whatever the committee wants to —

DURBIN: Personally, do you think that’s the best thing for us to do? You won’t answer?

KAVANAUGH: Look, senator, I — I’ve — I’ve — I’ve said I wanted a hearing and I’d said I was welcome [sic] anything. I’m innocent.


HARRIS: So I’m going to ask you one last time, are you willing to ask the White House to authorize the FBI to investigate the claims that have been made against you?

KAVANAUGH: Well, I’ll do whatever the committee wants, of course —

HARRIS: So — And I’ve heard you say that. But — I’ve not heard you ask — I’ve not heard you answer a very specific question that’s been asked, which is, are you willing to ask the White House to conduct an investigation by the FBI to get to whatever you believe is the bottom of the allegations that have been levied against you?

KAVANAUGH: The FBI would gather witness statements, you have witness statements —

HARRIS: Sir, it’s — it’s — it’s — I’m not — I don’t want to debate with you how they do their business, I’m just asking are you willing to ask the White House to conduct such an investigation? Because as you are aware, the FBI did conduct a background investigation in to you, before we were aware of these most recent allegations. So are you willing to ask the White House to do it — and say yes or no and then we can move on.

KAVANAUGH: I’ve had six background investigations over 26 years —

HARRIS: Sir, as it relates to the recent allegations are you willing to have them do it?

KAVANAUGH: The witness testimonies before you — no witness who was there supports that I was there —

HARRIS: OK, I’m going to take that as a no and we can move on.

Kavanaugh said in his opening statement at the hearing that he welcomed an FBI investigation after Ford’s allegations first became public. “When this allegation first arose, I welcomed any kind of investigation, Senate, FBI or otherwise,” he said. “The committee now has conducted a thorough investigation, and I’ve cooperated fully. I know that any kind of investigation — Senate, FBI, Montgomery County police — whatever, will clear me.”

Soon after Ford’s allegations became public, Kavanaugh said in a statement that he was “willing to talk to the Senate Judiciary Committee in any way the Committee deems appropriate to refute this false allegation, from 36 years ago, and defend my integrity.”

President Donald Trump ordered the FBI Sept. 28 to conduct a supplemental investigation into the nominee. Kavanaugh said in a statement that he would continue to cooperate.

Warren’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

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Emily Larsen

Fact Check Reporter