Tuesday, September 18, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He refused to let the FBI do anything that might jeopardize his Supreme Court nominee.

Trump today refused to allow the FBI to investigate the allegation that his Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, attempted to rape a woman at a party when he was 17 and his alleged victim was 15. His explanation: "This is not really their thing." He also insisted that the FBI "doesn't want to be involved."

In reality, this is exactly the FBI's "thing." The FBI is responsible for conducting vetting and background checks on all presidential nominees, and for maintaining the file that nominees have with the White House. It re-opens those investigations when necessary--as it did in the case of Anita Hill's allegations of sexual harassment about then-nominee Clarence Thomas.

Because the presidency is in effect the FBI's client in the background investigation, it cannot act without Trump's authorization.

Kavanaugh's accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, has insisted that the FBI investigation take place before she appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee. In a statement released today, her attorneys argued that "A full investigation by law enforcement officials will ensure that the crucial facts and witnesses in this matter are assessed in a non-partisan manner, and that the committee is fully informed before conducting any hearing or making any decisions."

An FBI investigation would also potentially shed light on another development in the matter today. Mark Judge, the classmate of Kavanaugh who Ford says was present in the room during the rape attempt, said he would refuse to testify. Maryland (where the alleged rape attempt occurred) has no statute of limitations on rape and Judge cannot be forced to testify if to do so might incriminate him.

Why should I care about this?

  • The FBI exists to serve justice, not the political interests of the president.