Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) used a Senate hearing regarding the FBI investigation into convicted child molester Larry Nassar as yet another opportunity to grandstand against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Nassar is the former doctor of the USA Gymnastics team who sexually abused many team members when they were minors.
During the testimony of FBI Director Christopher Wray, Whitehouse suggested that the agency’s investigation of Nassar was “just as flawed” as he believes the investigation into the unsubstantiated allegations made against Kavanaugh by Christine Blasey Ford during his confirmation process.
Nassar was convicted of multiple sexual assaults against minors and is serving a 140-year sentence in federal prison. Ford claimed that Kavanaugh assaulted her at a party when they were teenagers decades ago. She could not produce any witnesses to corroborate her claims and could not provide specific details about the time or location of the claimed assault.
As Senators typically do, Whitehouse used his allotted time to make a speech as much as to ask questions. He said it struck him “quite strongly” because the last time “a lady came out” to speak before the committee regarding sexual assault claims, it was Ford.
Whitehouse continued that it appeared to him then and now that Ford’s testimony was “swept under the rug” in a “stampede.” He added that the investigation of Ford’s allegations was just as “constrained” and “inappropriate” as the investigation of allegations into Nassar’s assaults.
The senator highlighted his dissatisfaction with what he sees as inadequate responses to his ongoing requests for information and records relevant to the Ford claims.
Other Congressional Democrats have pressured Wray about the Ford allegations and the FBI’s position that it did not have the legal authority to further investigate Kavanaugh during the confirmation process because of a previous contractual agreement with Congress.
Before the hearing on the Nassar investigation on Wednesday, Whitehouse said that Wray should be ready “to answer my questions” about Kavanaugh. He added that he “won’t stop asking until he does.”
Whitehouse dismissed the FBI’s stance on its authority under its agreement with Congress regarding the scope of background investigations. After reviewing the agreement, he said that it is “even harder to understand” the agency’s “excuses” for not performing the investigation he wanted to see done.