FBI report clears supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct allegations

A confidential FBI report about allegations that US supreme court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, sexually assaulted women three decades ago was made available for senators to view on Thursday.

The FBI investigation was triggered after Christine Blasey Ford, a California psychology professor, testified at a Senate hearing last week, detailing her allegation that Kavanaugh attempted to rape her when the pair were teenagers in high school.

Two other women, Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick, also accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault and misconduct.

Ramirez alleged that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her when they were at Yale University, and Swetnick has claimed she was gang raped at a party Kavanaugh attended when they were in high school, and she witnessed him at other parties spiking alcohol in an attempt to get women inebriated. Kavanaugh has repeatedly denied all the allegations.

Kavanaugh denies the allegations.

On Thursday, the Senate judiciary committee chair, Chuck Grassley, said the FBI report “found no hint of misconduct” but Democrats criticised the investigation, implying that it was narrow in scope to protect Donald Trump’s supreme court nominee.

However, two key Republicans whose support for Kavanaugh hinges on the FBI report have expressed satisfaction with its scope and findings, boosting the nominee’s chances of being confirmed to the US supreme court.

“It appears to be a very thorough investigation,” Senator Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, told CNN after being briefed on the report.

Senator Jeff Flake, a Republican of Arizona, whose 11th-hour revolt at a vote last week triggered the supplemental FBI background check into the allegations, said: “We’ve seen no additional corroborating information.”

Both senators are seen as critical swing votes for the conservative judge’s nomination to the nation’s highest court. They have not said how they intend to vote at a crucial Senate ballot on his confirmation, which is expected on Friday.

The FBI report also reviewed allegations from Deborah Ramirez, who says Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a party when both were students at Yale.

“What critics want is a never-ending fishing expedition into high school drinking,” said White House spokesman Raj Shah. He said the FBI reached out to 10 people and interviewed nine, including “several individuals at the request of the Senate, and had a series of follow-up interviews … following certain leads.”

On Wednesday night, Trump reiterated his support for his nominee. “Wow, such enthusiasm and energy for Judge Brett Kavanaugh,” he tweeted. “He is a fine man and great intellect. The country is with him all the way!”

Republicans hold a 51-49 majority in the Senate and a simple majority is needed to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination.

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