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Inaction on Kavanaugh allegations reignites political rancor

Four days before Brett M. Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court by the narrowest of margins, Sen. Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.) sent a letter to the FBI, urging “appropriate follow up” on new information he believed was relevant to sexual misconduct allegations made against the nominee.

Then, apparently, not much happened. Not at the FBI, which assured Coons it had received the letter but did not interview the person whom the senator referred to the bureau. Not in the office of then-Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), which was copied on the letter that contained few in the way of specifics; and not among Democrats, several of whom had been unaware of the information until a New York Times report this weekend detailed a new alleged incident involving Kavanaugh.

That inaction — made public in recent days through new reports about Kavanaugh’s alleged misbehavior — has renewed a bitter debate about how his confirmation was handled, angering Democrats about a process they felt was rushed and animating Republicans who decried what they viewed as attempts to assassinate Kavanaugh’s character.

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The revelations about the process also revived one of the most rancorous episodes in recent political history and thrust it into the center of the 2020 presidential race, as several Democratic candidates called on the Supreme Court’s newest justice to be impeached by the House.

In an interview Monday, Coons said he was “disappointed and upset” that the scope of the FBI background check — greenlighted by the White House just over a week before Kavanaugh was confirmed at the insistence of Republican senators — was, in his view, “so constrained.”


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