Some witnesses say they called FBI in vain as end of Kavanaugh probe looms

October 3, 2018 - 2:48 PM
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Judge Brett Kavanaugh testifies to the Senate Judiciary Committee during his Supreme Court confirmation hearing in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, U.S., September 27, 2018. REUTERS/File Photo via Win McNamee/Pool )

NEW YORK—Several people with information related to allegations of sexual misconduct against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh say they have tried in vain to speak with the FBI, which is expected to wrap up its investigation this week.

Under pressure, U.S. President Donald Trump ordered the FBI investigation following a dramatic Senate hearing last week in which university professor Christine Blasey Ford detailed a sexual assault she says was carried out by Kavanaugh and his friend, Mark Judge, at a high school party in 1982.

However, the White House gave the FBI a deadline of Friday to provide the results of a week-long inquiry into the allegations – all of which Kavanaugh has vehemently denied.

The FBI has already interviewed Judge, who has denied any memory of such an incident, as well as at least three other people with information about the allegations made by Ford and a second accuser, Deborah Ramirez.

Ramirez claims Kavanaugh exposed himself to her when they both attended Yale University.

Ford’s lawyers said on Tuesday she had offered her full cooperation with the FBI in its investigation but had received no reply.

“It is inconceivable that the FBI could conduct a thorough investigation of Dr. Ford’s allegations without interviewing her, Judge Kavanaugh, or the witnesses we have identified in our letters to you,” the lawyers said in their letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray.

A person familiar with the matter said the FBI questioned Deborah Ramirez for more than two hours on Sunday and that she provided the FBI with a list of more than 20 possible witnesses.

Richard Oh, a classmate of Ramirez and Kavanaugh at Yale, told Reuters he contacted the FBI’s Denver field office twice at the weekend hoping to provide information he believed would support Ramirez’s account.

Oh said it was unclear if the person he spoke with at the FBI passed on his statement to agents working on the case.

“I didn’t get the sense that this person even knew what the Kavanaugh case was about,” said Oh, an emergency room doctor in California. “I was hoping to hear back from them for follow-up questions. I still haven’t heard from them.”

‘Nobody contacted’

Mark Krasberg, who lived in the same dormitory as Kavanaugh at Yale, said he had also been unsuccessful in connecting with the right people at the FBI despite efforts to provide “information which backs up part of Debbie Ramirez’s story.”

Those efforts included calling the FBI’s Denver field office, which he chose because it is Ramirez’s home state, and several emails with Senate aides starting on Friday, Krasberg said.

Jo Miller, who has spoken out in support of Ramirez, noted that two other Yale classmates of Kavanaugh – Tad Low and Kerry Berchem – had also sought to contact FBI agents working on the case without success.

“As far as I can tell nobody has been contacted,” Miller said.

The claims are significant because Democrats in the U.S. Senate will likely complain that the FBI was not given enough time to complete a proper investigation into the allegations against Kavanaugh.

Republicans have a narrow 51-49 majority in the Senate and Trump and party leaders want to get Kavanaugh confirmed ahead of Nov. 6 elections, in which Democrats are trying to seize control of Congress.

The stakes are high because Kavanaugh’s confirmation would consolidate conservative control of the Supreme Court.

Three moderate Republicans have yet to say if they will back Kavanaugh and they will likely be the key votes when the Senate finally decides.

Trump raised the temperature even further at a rally in Mississippi on Tuesday night, mocking Ford for not having answers to some questions during her Senate testimony.

“What neighborhood was it in? I don’t know. Where’s the house? I don’t know. Upstairs, downstairs, where was it? I don’t know. But I had one beer. That’s the only thing I remember,” Trump said in imitation of Ford’s testimony.

He also drew criticism from Democrats earlier on Tuesday by saying the Kavanaugh case showed it was “a very scary time for young men in America” because they might be presumed guilty even when innocent.—Reporting by Nathan Layne in New York and Richard Cowan and Steve Holland in Washington, Editing by Paul Tait