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Yes, the FBI Actually Has Investigated Allegations Like Christine Blasey Ford’s Before


Judge Brett Kavanaugh testifies during the second day of his US Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing to be an Associate Justice on the US Supreme Court, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, September 5, 2018. - President Donald Trump's newest Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is expected to face punishing questioning from Democrats this week over his endorsement of presidential immunity and his opposition to abortion.

Ever heard of Anita Hill?

One of the reactions to Christine Blasey Ford‘s request that the FBI investigate her claim that Brett Kavanaugh attempted to sexually assault her at a party back in high school has been that the FBI doesn’t do investigations like that.

For example, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah):

Fox News host Tucker Carlson said the same thing on Tuesday, but with a caveat.

Carlson said he was told by a senior U.S. official that the FBI will not investigate because what Ford is alleging is not a federal crime. Only if the White House “demands it” will the FBI investigate the claim, Carlson said.

As it turns out, it’s not true that the FBI doesn’t do investigations like this. Former FBI special agent and current CNN analyst Asha Rangappa said that she was told background checks for “presidential appointees only go back 10 years or back to age 18.”

“So anything outside of the scope would (presumably?) need a request from the White House,” she added.

This is in keeping with what Carlson said — that it’s on the White House to request the FBI investigation in this case.

It’s also something that’s happened before.

Anita Hill came forward in 1991 to say that then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas sexually harassed her. At the time, Hill did speak to the FBI in advance of hearings, says Above the Law Executive Editor Elie Mystal.

“The F.B.I. investigated EXACTLY this sort of thing when Anita Hill alleged she was sexually harassed by Clarence Thomas. George H.W. Bush requested that the F.B.I. look into her claims, and they did,” Mystal wrote. “The F.B.I. conducts background checks on judicial nominees. Kavanaugh has had that background check. Ford’s claims, made this summer, were added to his file, but they did not investigate the claim.”

“Donald Trump… of all people… can ask them to. He just has to pick up the phone and call Chris Wray,” Mystal added.

Other lawyers on Twitter pointed out the same.

Hill, it should be noted, said in an ABC interview on Wednesday that “Absolutely it’s the right move [to conduct an FBI investigation]” because the hearing questions “need to have a frame, and the investigation is the best frame for that.”

[Image via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]

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Matt Naham is the Senior A.M. Editor of Law&Crime.