WASHINGTON — The White House prepared late Wednesday to send the FBI’s completed report on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh to the Senate, as partisan rancor continued to grow over the scope of the investigation into sexual assault allegations that have endangered his confirmation.

The latest FBI probe updating Kavanaugh’s background check was set to arrive Wednesday night on Capitol Hill, according to two people familiar with its release. White House officials have been briefed on the FBI’s findings, the people said.

The developments came as Senate Democrats opened a new front in their objections to the investigations of Kavanaugh’s conduct, suggesting in a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, that past FBI background checks of Kavanaugh include evidence of inappropriate behavior, without disclosing specifics.

The letter, signed by eight of the 10 Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, challenged the accuracy of a tweet from the committee’s Republican staff on Tuesday that said: “Nowhere in any of these six FBI reports, which the committee has reviewed on a bipartisan basis, was there ever a whiff of ANY issue – at all – related in any way to inappropriate sexual behavior or alcohol abuse.”

The Democrats said the information in the tweet is “not accurate,” urging Republicans to correct it.

“It is troubling that the committee majority has characterized information from Judge Kavanaugh’s confidential background investigation on Twitter, as that information is confidential and not subject to public release,” the Democrats, led by Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., wrote to Grassley. “If the committee majority is going to violate that confidentiality and characterize this background investigation publicly, you must at least be honest about it.”


The two committee Democrats who did not sign the letter were Sens. Christopher Coons of Delaware, and Minnesota’s Amy Klobuchar.

Grassley’s staff responded on Twitter that “nothing in the tweet is inaccurate or misleading.”

“The committee stands by its statement, which is completely truthful,” the committee Republicans said. “More baseless innuendo and more false smears from Senate Democrats.”

In anticipation of the FBI report arriving on the Hill later in the day, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Wednesday night teed up a key procedural vote advancing Kavanaugh’s nomination for Friday. Until that vote, senators will be rushing in and out of a secure facility at the Capitol to review the sensitive FBI report that the bureau has compiled, looking into allegations of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh.

“There will be plenty of time for members to review and be briefed on this supplemental material before a Friday cloture vote,” McConnell said Wednesday night.

Two Senate officials say the report will be available at a sensitive compartmented information facility, or SCIF, in the Capitol Visitor Center, a secure room designed for senators to review sensitive or classified material. Just one physical copy of the report will be available and only to senators and a small group of cleared committee staffers.


The two parties will take turns having access to the FBI report in shifts, according to a senior Senate official. For example, Republicans will spend an hour with the report from 8 a.m. until 9 a.m. Thursday, then Democrats will have an hour with the report. It will rotate throughout the rest of the day Thursday and potentially into Friday, with senators being briefed by staff members simultaneously.

Earlier Wednesday, a trio of Republican senators crucial to Kavanaugh’s confirmation prospects criticized President Trump for mocking the account of a woman who has accused his Supreme Court nominee of sexual assault decades ago.

In separate interviews, Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona, Maine’s Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, – all considered swing votes on Kavanaugh – took issue with comments the president made the night before at a political rally in Mississippi that drew laughs from his supporters.

“There’s no time and no place for remarks like that,” Flake said on NBC’s “Today” show. “To discuss something this sensitive at a political rally is just not right. It’s just not right. I wish he hadn’t done it. . . . It’s kind of appalling.”

Flake, the Judiciary Committee member who pushed to delay the vote on Kavanaugh so the FBI could investigate, later told The Washington Post that Trump’s comments would not factor into his thinking on the nomination. “You can’t take it out on other people, the president’s insensitive remarks,” he said.

The impact on Collins and Murkowski was less clear.


About two hours after Flake’s appearance, Collins also took exception to Trump’s remarks, telling reporters, “The president’s comments were just plain wrong.” She did not answer a question about whether the comments could affect how she votes on Kavanaugh.

Speaking to reporters early Wednesday afternoon, Murkowski said: “I thought the president’s comments yesterday mocking Dr. Ford were wholly inappropriate and, in my view, unacceptable.”

Asked whether the comments would affect her vote, she said: “I am taking everything into account.”

In his most direct attack on Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault while both were teenagers in Maryland, Trump sought Tuesday night to highlight holes in the account Ford gave in sworn testimony to the Judiciary Committee last week.

Ford has said that the incident happened in an upstairs room at a gathering of teenagers and that she is “100 percent” certain it was Kavanaugh who assaulted her, although she has acknowledged that her memories of other details of the evening remain unclear.

Trump’s comments at Tuesday’s rally prompted a debate that played out on cable television and elsewhere over whether he had hurt his nominee’s chances.


Among those who weighed in was Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who said that everything Trump had said was factual but that he took issue with his tone.

“I would tell him, ‘Knock it off, you’re not helping,’ ” Graham said during an appearance at the Atlantic Festival.

Besides Flake, Collins and Murkowski, Democratic Sens. Heidi Heitkamp, N.D., and Joe Manchin III, W.Va., also have yet to announce how they will vote.

While trying to round up votes on his side, McConnell has also taken sharp aim at Democrats, accusing them of trying to “move the goal posts” on Kavanaugh’s confirmation fight by suggesting that Friday would be too soon for a key vote on him.

“If my friends across the aisle had their way, the goal posts on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination would be in another time zone,” he said.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer of New York, fired back in remarks after McConnell, saying the weeklong delay to let the FBI investigate came at the request of Republican senators who were not prepared to vote for Kavanaugh’s nomination.


“Man up and say it’s your decision, not ours,” Schumer said.

As a vote nears, Democrats have also sought to highlight concerns about Kavanaugh’s temperament, pointing to moments in last week’s hearing in which he grew testy at senators and was emotional at other points.

During his television appearance, Flake reiterated that he, too, was concerned that Kavanaugh at times was “sharp and more partisan than a lot of us would like to see.”

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway defended her boss during a Wednesday television appearance.

“The president is pointing out factual inconsistencies by Ford’s own testimony,” Conway said on Fox News. “There are gaps in her memory. There are facts she cannot remember.”

At a White House briefing later in the day, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders echoed those statements and asserted a double standard when it comes to questioning the testimony of Ford and questioning the testimony of Kavanaugh.


“It wasn’t anything but the president stating facts,” Sanders said of Trump.

She declined to say whether Trump still believes Ford was credible.

Besides Ford, two other women have publicly accused Kavanaugh of misconduct while he was in high school or college. Deborah Ramirez, who has accused Kavanaugh of exposing himself to her while they were students at Yale University, has been interviewed by the FBI. A third accuser, Julie Swetnick, said in an affidavit that Kavanaugh was present at a house party in 1982 where she was the victim of a gang rape.

Kavanaugh has vehemently denied all allegations of misconduct.

Some Democrats have voiced concerns about the scope of the FBI probe, the extent to which the White House is limiting it and whether a week is long enough to conduct a thorough investigation.

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