Schumer Floor Remarks On The Need To Re-Open Judge Kavanaugh’s FBI Background Investigation

September 25, 2018

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor [at approximately 4:40 p.m.] regarding the need to re-open Judge Kavanaugh’s  FBI background investigation.  Below are his remarks which can also be viewed here:

Madam President, in the confirmation of any Supreme Court nominee, it’s the Senate’s job to carefully and thoroughly review the nominee’s credentials, beliefs, background, and suitability for the position. Once confirmed, a Supreme Court Justice is not subject to review or to term limits.  It is a lifetime appointment with immense responsibilities and powers. We have to examine any Supreme Court nominee in light of those facts.

 

Dr. Christine Blasey Ford has come forward with a credible allegation that Judge Kavanaugh was guilty of sexual misconduct. I believe her, but regardless of what you believe, she deserves to be heard in a deliberate and impartial manner, in a way that’s dignified and respectful to both sides and to her, with as much independently verified information gathered beforehand. And now, of course, there are additional allegations about Judge Kavanaugh’s actions that should be examined.

 

There is one simple way to get to the bottom of this, without the he-said, she-said, without the finger-pointing and name-calling: a quiet, serious, thorough background check by the FBI. That’s the logical way to go. The FBI is not biased. The FBI is professional. It’s a crime to lie to them so people have a large incentive to tell the truth. Re-opening an FBI investigation is a routine practice for judicial nominations. It’s happened over and over again when new information comes up and it only takes a short time to complete. It should be quiet, serious, and get to the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth. If my Republican friends are so concerned about this process being chaotic, they should want the FBI to handle investigating these allegations, because the FBI can conduct this investigation soberly, effectively, and discreetly. In fact, there is really only one way to get to the bottom of these allegations and prevent the nation from being thrown into further turmoil: an independent background check by the FBI. So on one hand, our Republican colleagues decry the turmoil, but on the other hand, they avoid the careful, best, serious way to get at the allegations – a background check investigation by the FBI.

 

For some reason, both the White House and Senate Republicans are now blocking an FBI investigation and questioning its purpose. Let me ask our Republican friends, President Trump, and America this question: if President Trump and Senate Republicans are so certain the allegations against Judge Kavanaugh aren’t true, why aren’t they welcoming the FBI to look into it? Leader McConnell, you spent five minutes pointing your finger at Democrats. That shows someone who is in a pickle. That shows someone who has dug a deep hole. If you really believed these allegations are part of a despicable smear job, Leader McConnell, why don’t you call for an FBI investigation?

 

What are you afraid of? What are you hiding? What is Judge Kavanaugh hiding?

 

Nobody knows, but people who want the truth will find a truth teller. People who don’t want the truth will run away from a truth teller and instead point fingers of accusation and wild, untethered allegations. That’s what Leader McConnell is doing. It’s not a great moment. I know he prizes his role as ramming through these right-wing justices. That’s part of his legacy. I don’t think America will see it that way a few years from now when we see their rulings. There will be a huge backlash if Judge Kavanaugh should get on the court and they should rule the way they have ruled in the past. But, that is not the search for truth. That is the search for a rush job to avoid the truth. It should not happen.

 

Think about it: the White House is blocking an impartial investigation of Dr. Ford’s allegation. Chairman Grassley is setting arbitrary deadlines for Dr. Ford to testify, dictating the terms of her appearance, and denying her and the minority the right to call other witnesses, which always happens at hearings, including an alleged eyewitness. There was someone in the room. By press reports, he’s backing up Kavanaugh. Why are they afraid to have him testify? Or at least he is saying he doesn’t remember. We’re hearing Chairman Grassley now wants to bring in an outside counsel to conduct the questioning as if Dr. Ford were on trial, as if Republicans are afraid to question Dr. Ford. This is so unusual, but it shows a fear on the part of Republican friends that something bad and truthful will come out. Madam President, if Chairman Grassley and Leader McConnell continue down this road, we are heading for a hearing that is far from what a serious fact-finding inquiry should look like. Far from respectful to Dr. Ford. Far from fair.

 

Given the circumstances, the American people should ask, particularly those who support Judge Kavanaugh: who is more credible? The American people should ask who is more credible. Dr. Ford, who wants the FBI to investigate her allegation because she is confident it will corroborate her account, or our Republican friends who are running away from any objective fact-finding and truth? Remember it’s Dr. Ford who not only wants the FBI to look into this. She took a voluntary lie detector test. And she knew she was inviting harassment and ridicule and abuse for coming forward. She’s gotten death threats, she had to move out of her house. She feared her life would be upended, and it has been. She still had the courage to do this. We certainly owe her some dignity and a fair hearing. Not the kind of rushed, almost kangaroo-court-style hearing where the members on the Republican side are afraid to even ask her and confront her, while they’ll say things behind her back.

 

Who is more credible? Is it Dr. Ford, who is willing to submit to all this? Or Republicans and the White House, who are stonewalling an FBI investigation into the facts? Who are refusing to call other witnesses to Dr. Ford’s hearing, including the alleged eyewitness. Republicans or Democrats? It’s an easy, easy answer to all of these. So when Leader McConnell rails and rants Democrats, he’s setting up a straw man. He’s afraid of what might come out, of what the truth is, it seems to me.

 

We have heard Judge Kavanaugh’s defenders say, ‘this happened 36 years ago, it shouldn’t matter.’ We have heard new, tortured formulations of that shopworn excuse ‘boys will be boys.’ Now I don’t agree with any of those voices, any of those excuses, but let me address those who think that, those who think this was a long time ago, boys did this, let’s not hold someone thirty years later accountable for it, or let’s not at least stop his advancement in his career. I would ask those who believe that Kavanaugh is not being treated fairly to examine one more point, his credibility. Whether you think what happened 36 years ago is enough to remove him from consideration of the Supreme Court as I do, or whether you don't, credibility of a Supreme Court nominee is extremely important. Judge Kavanaugh has unequivocally denied this. He didn't say like, Mr. Judge, I can't remember. Maybe I had too many to drink. My recollection isn't great. He unequivocally denied it. And this comes on top of the fact that judge Kavanaugh's testimony had real issues of credibility.


Is Judge Kavanaugh again denying the truth because his confirmation to the United States Supreme Court hangs in the balance? The credibility of Judge Kavanaugh, his previous testimony, given how he skirted the truth at the very minimum on issues like appointment of certain judges, on torture, on Manny Miranda, and now he says this, an unequivocal denial. Let’s assume that after the testimony of Dr. Ford, most Americans believe her to be true. How would we want to appoint Judge Kavanaugh because he would have abjectly lied if they believe it is true? So there is the issue of credibility, beyond the weight that different people give what happened 30-some-odd years ago. Beyond the wait, whether people excuse or don't excuse the behavior – I don't excuse it – is the issue that looms, credibility. Is Judge Kavanaugh the kind of upright, straightforward individual we want on the bench? And do his flirtations with avoiding the truth in his testimony, is that – is this – just another even worse indication that he does not have the judgment, the moral character, the credibility for a job that requires all three?

So in summation, Madam President, in the face of multiple allegations against Judge Kavanaugh, the FBI should re-open the background check investigation, and we should conduct a hearing where the appropriate witnesses are called and respect given both to the accuser and the accused. Anything less will be viewed by the American people, and I believe judged by history, as a stain on Republicans in the Senate and a stain on the integrity of the majesty of the Supreme Court.

###