Investigation 101

David Corn at Mother Jones:

On Wednesday night, the lawyers for Christine Blasey Ford responded sharply to the news that the Trump White House had blocked the FBI from interviewing her about her allegation that she was sexually assaulted by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in 1982. This probe, her attorneys said, “cannot be called an investigation. We are profoundly disappointed that after the tremendous sacrifice she made in coming forward, those directing the FBI investigation were not interested in seeking the truth.” The decision to not interview Ford, Kavanaugh, and dozens of other witnesses related to her allegation and Deborah Ramirez’s claim that Kavanaugh engaged in sexual misconduct during his college days has drawn much criticism from Democrats and others, as Republicans cite the FBI’s report—which has been presented to the White House and Senate—to contend there is no evidence Kavanaugh committed any wrongdoing in these cases.

I keep marveling at the sheer effrontery of that. You can’t systematically block a real investigation and then proudly announce to the world that the “investigation” you blocked found no corroborating evidence. You can’t, but they did and they are.

So it’s surprising, Corn goes on, that they would do something so blatant.

After all, the standard operating procedure for any investigation would include questioning the accuser and the accused. Forgoing these interviews undermines the FBI’s report and makes it easy for critics to contend that this has been a sham investigation. So why would the White House take such a step? The Democrats on Senate Judiciary Committee have a theory: Trump White House officials blocked an interview with Ford because they were worried about the FBI questioning Kavanaugh.

Kavanaugh was evasive and/or belligerent at the hearing. The all-male Republican bloc on the committee didn’t even question him, they simply sang arias about the glory of Kavanaugh and the evil of Democrats.

Kavanaugh, that is, did not undergo a true and professional grilling. An FBI interview would have been a much different experience. “When you’re in front of the FBI, you cannot refuse to answer questions, you cannot attack the agents, you cannot change the subject,” a Democratic member of the committee says. “The White House did not want Kavanaugh in such a situation. And if he said anything to the FBI that could prove false, he could end up in a lot of trouble.”

Corn says it would have looked too bad to interview Ford but not Kavanaugh so that’s why they didn’t interview either of them. I’m not convinced by that because refusing to interview both already looks too bad. They really don’t seem to care what looks too bad (to say nothing of what actually is too bad).

It was predictable that an FBI investigation without interviews of the primary figures would be denounced. As Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), a member of the committee, tweeted, “Interviewing the accuser & accused is Investigation 101. It is absolutely necessary to follow up on leads & corroborate details. The fact the FBI has not been authorized to take basic steps demonstrates the WH is turning this investigation into a sham & charade.”

The US government is in the hands of fearlessly brazen criminals and authoritarians. I can’t see this ending well.

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