Dems send letter on previous Kavanaugh background checks

They call for GOP tweet to be corrected

By KATE SULLIVAN, CNN
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Judge Brett Kavanaugh is sworn in before testifying to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Eight Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a letter to GOP Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa suggesting there could have been something in previous FBI background checks on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh related to inappropriate sexual behavior or alcohol abuse.

The Democratic senators accuse Republicans of mishandling confidential background investigation information, and call for Republican staff on the Judiciary Committee to correct what they say is an inaccurate statement in a tweet posted Tuesday that said "nowhere" in the prior background checks was there a "whiff of ANY issue--at all--related in any way to inappropriate sexual behavior or alcohol abuse."

Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, who sits on the Judiciary Committee, quoted the tweet and said, "This tweet is not accurate. Committee Republicans must correct it."

Grassley's staff then countered Durbin and said, "Nothing in the tweet is inaccurate or misleading. The committee stands by its statement, which is completely truthful. More baseless innuendo and more false smears from Senate Democrats."

In the letter to Grassley, the Democrats said each of them had reviewed Kavanaugh's confidential background investigation before the hearing, and "while we are limited in what we can say about this background investigation in a public setting, we are compelled to state for the record that there is information in the second post that is not accurate," in reference to the tweet.

"Unfortunately, this is not the first instance of Committee Majority staff mischaracterizing or selectively disclosing information regarding the allegations of sexual misconduct by Judge Kavanaugh," the letter continues.

The letter claims the Republican staffers have selectively disclosed evidence and worked to "undermine the credibility of the women who have come forward."

The Democrats said they are concerned there may be an effort to "publicly mischaracterize or selectively leak, for partisan purposes, the results of the FBI's ongoing supplemental background investigation into Judge Kavanaugh."

In addition to Durbin, the letter was signed by the top Democrat on the committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, and Sens. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California.

The members called for bipartisan ground rules to be established for public discussion of the information provided by the FBI, adding it is critical the American people have confidence in the FBI's investigation.

Blumenthal told Wolf Blitzer on CNN's "The Situation Room" that "The clarification of that tweet would require me to go into the FBI report, but what that tweet highlights very dramatically and directly is the need for a full investigation, and for the public to know what's in that investigation, which is why it should be made public and why the facts here are really so important." 

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