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Senate set to begin reviewing FBI report on Kavanaugh

Members of the Senate are set Thursday to begin reviewing the supplemental FBI background file for Brett Kavanaugh, which could determine whether key senators support the embattled Supreme Court nominee.

The review comes amid pressure from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Donald Trump to confirm Kavanaugh in the face of sexual assault allegations, which he has denied.

The White House, which has already seen the report, said early Thursday the additional interviews from the FBI show no corroboration of allegations against the embattled Supreme Court nominee.

The FBI, however, is not tasked with drawing conclusions, and only provided the White House with summaries of the interviews they conducted. The most consequential conclusions will be made by four key swing votes on Kavanaugh’s nomination: Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Jeff Flake of Arizona, Susan Collins of Maine and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

Trump suggested on Thursday morning that voters were carefully watching developments in the Senate.

“The harsh and unfair treatment of Judge Brett Kavanaugh is having an incredible upward impact on voters. The PEOPLE get it far better than the politicians,” Trump tweeted. “Most importantly, this great life cannot be ruined by mean & despicable Democrats and totally uncorroborated allegations!”

Committee members to have equal access to FBI file

The file was delivered to the committee in a sealed box at 2:30 a.m. ET, according to a committee source, who also told CNN that it was placed in a vault that already holds Kavanaugh’s six other background investigation reports.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, tweeted early Thursday morning that the committee had received the report and that members of the committee would have equal access to it.

“Supplemental background file for Judge Kavanaugh has been received by @senjudiciary Ranking Member Feinstein & I have agreed to alternating EQUAL access for senators to study content from additional background info gathered by non-partisan FBI agents,” Grassley tweeted.

The White House also said earlier Thursday that they received the FBI’s file, which they subsequently sent to the Senate. In a statement, White House spokesman Raj Shah said: “With Leader McConnell’s cloture filing, Senators have been given ample time to review this seventh background investigation.”

“This is the last addition to the most comprehensive review of a Supreme Court nominee in history, which includes extensive hearings, multiple committee interviews, over 1,200 questions for the record and over a half million pages of documents,” the statement read. “With this additional information, the White House is fully confident the Senate will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.”

Senators will review the FBI’s report Thursday before a procedural vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination on Friday that would possibly lead to a final vote as early as the following day. The report will only be available to the senators and a small number of aides.

Grassley and Feinstein agreed Wednesday that Republican and Democratic senators would be allotted equal time slots for briefings, according to a committee source. The first briefing is scheduled for Republican senators at 10 a.m. ET.

Kavanaugh’s nomination hangs in the balance a week after Christine Blasey Ford testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee about her allegation of sexual assault against Kavanaugh when they were both in high school. Both Kavanaugh and the White House have repeatedly denied the allegation.

A further FBI investigation into Kavanaugh’s background was put into motion last week when Flake voted to move Kavanaugh’s nomination out of the committee but called for the FBI to further investigate Ford’s claims.