Brett Kavanaugh
Credit: NBC News/Screen capture

His hand forced by the demands of Senators Flake, Collins and Murkowksi, President Trump has authorized an FBI investigation into some details of Kavanaugh’s past. Unfortunately (but not unpredictably), the White House is so delimiting the investigation as to make it a farce and a sham:

While the FBI will examine the allegations of Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez, the bureau has not been permitted to investigate the claims of Julie Swetnick, who has accused Kavanaugh of engaging in sexual misconduct at parties while he was a student at Georgetown Preparatory School in the 1980s, those people familiar with the investigation told NBC News. A White House official confirmed that Swetnick’s claims will not be pursued as part of the reopened background investigation into Kavanaugh…

Instead of investigating Swetnick’s claims, the White House counsel’s office has given the FBI a list of witnesses they are permitted to interview, according to several people who discussed the parameters on the condition of anonymity. They characterized the White House instructions as a significant constraint on the FBI investigation and caution that such a limited scope, while not unusual in normal circumstances, may make it difficult to pursue additional leads in a case in which a Supreme Court nominee has been accused of sexual assault.

The limited scope seems to be at odds with what some members of the Senate judiciary seemed to expect when they agreed to give the FBI as much as a week to investigate allegations against Kavanaugh, a federal judge who grew up in the Washington DC area and attended an elite all-boys high school before going on to Yale.

Not only are Ms. Swetnick’s claims not to be included (likely because they are the most scandalous, and because of the president’s feud with Swetnick’s lawyer Michael Avenatti), also off limits are Kavanaugh’s drinking habits and Mark Judge’s employment records at Safeway. Both would be crucial in corroborating the accounts of both Dr. Ford and Ms. Ramirez:

But as of now, the FBI cannot ask the supermarket that employed Judge for records verifying when he was employed there, one of the sources was told. Ford said in congressional testimony Thursday that those records would help her narrow the time frame of the alleged incident which she recalls happening some time in the summer of 1982 in Montgomery County, Maryland.

Two sources familiar with the investigation said the FBI will also not be able to examine why Kavanaugh’s account of his drinking at Yale University differs from those of some former classmates, who have said he was known as a heavy drinker. Those details may be pertinent to investigating claims from Ramirez who described an alleged incident of sexual misconduct she said occurred while Kavanaugh was inebriated. Ramirez’s lawyer said Saturday that she had been contacted by the FBI and would cooperate.

Senators Flake, Collins and Murkowski must now decide whether they will allow themselves to be part of this fraud, or whether they will demand a real and unobstructed investigation in return for their potential votes. They, not the White House, hold the power here. It was they who set the original boundary of a week-long investigation, and they who can set the parameters of its scope.

It is clear by now that Kavanaugh has lied throughout his testimony to the Judiciary Committee on matters both large and small. The preponderance of the evidence suggests that it would be very possible for a thorough investigation to nail down the exact date of a party attended by all the individuals described in Dr. Ford’s account. Even a casual investigation would likely be enough to prove that Kavanaugh did engage in drunken antics that he denies, instantly giving Ms. Ramirez far more credibility in the matter.

It would not take long. The White House is limiting this inquiry not in the interest of time, but in the interest of shielding its nominee from accountability and scrutiny. And Flake, Collins and Murkowski have all the power they need to prevent the coverup.

The legacies of these senators will depend on their decision.

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Follow David on Twitter @DavidOAtkins. David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.