Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley quoted former Vice President Joe Biden Thursday in an effort to shoot down calls for a new FBI probe into the allegations against Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
In his opening statement at the highly anticipated hearing of Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford, the Iowa Republican quoted Biden, who served as the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee during the 1991 proceedings to confirm Justice Clarence Thomas, and presided over the hearings involving his accuser, Professor Anita Hill.
“The Judiciary Committee was able to conduct a thorough investigation into the allegations. Some of my colleagues —consistent with their stated desires to obstruct the Kavanaugh nomination by any means necessary — pushed for an FBI investigation into the allegations,” Grassley said. “I have no authority to force an executive branch agency to conduct an investigation into a matter it considers to be closed.”
He added: “Contrary to what the public has been led to believe, the FBI doesn’t perform any credibility assessment, or verify the truth of any event in these background investigations.”
Grassley went on to quote then-Chairman Biden.
“The next person who refers to an FBI report as being worth anything obviously doesn’t understand anything. The FBI explicitly does not in this or any other case reach a conclusion. Period,” Grassley read. “They say he said, she said, and they said, period. So when people wave an FBI report before you, understand they do not, they do not, they do not reach conclusions. They do not make recommendations.”
Grassley added that the FBI "provided us with the allegations. Now it’s up to the Senate to assess their credibility. Which bring us to today.”
Ford appeared on Capitol Hill before the committee Thursday to share her allegations against Kavanaugh. She claims Kavanaugh, while in high school 36 years ago, pinned her to a bed and tried to remove her clothing. Her attorney said she believed it to be "attempted rape."
Kavanaugh has vehemently denied the allegations.
It was revealed this week the committee had begun interviewing a man who believes that Ford had mistaken Kavanaugh for him, as he remembers an incident involving Ford.
Biden presided over Thomas’ confirmation hearings when Anita Hill accused the nominee of making sexually explicit comments to her and unwanted advances while she worked for him. The allegations were briefly investigated by the FBI.
Members of the committee at the time called for further FBI investigation into Thomas. But in passionate remarks during the hearing, Biden dismissed those who said the FBI's report was "worth anything."
Addressing Thomas, Biden said, “The reason why we cannot rely on the FBI report — you wouldn’t like it if we did: because it is inconclusive.”
Today's Senate Judiciary Committee faces a similar situation, as Kavanaugh faces allegations of sexual assault dating back to high school by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. He is also accused of exposing himself at a freshman year dorm party to his Yale University classmate Deborah Ramirez.
Kavanaugh has emphatically denied the allegations.
Ford and Ramirez have both called for FBI investigations into their claims. Senate Democrats have also pushed for an investigation, calling for the White House to demand that the bureau open a probe into Kavanaugh.
The FBI conducts background investigations prior to an appointed official’s confirmation to “determine whether the nominee could pose a risk to the national security of the United States,” according to a Justice Department spokesperson.
In an FBI background investigation, the bureau is only responsible for finding information and passing it along, which they have done in the Kavanaugh case, a source told Fox News. The source said the FBI would not 'investigate' the information found.”
“The FBI does not make any judgment about the credibility or significance of any allegation,” a Justice Department spokesperson said in a statement last week.
According to the Justice Department, on Sept. 12, the FBI received a letter dated from July 2018, obtained by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., alleging Kavanaugh “engaged in an incident of misconduct in the 1980s.”
“The FBI forwarded this letter to the White House Counsel’s Office,” the spokesperson said. “The allegation does not involve any potential federal crime. The FBI’s role in such matters is to provide information for the use of decision makers.”
An FBI spokesperson, last week, said in a statement that Ford’s Sept. 12 letter was “included as part of Judge Kavanaugh’s background file, as per the standard process.”
The FBI does not plan to launch a criminal investigation into the allegations against Kavanaugh, as there are no allegations of a federal crime. The FBI also would only re-open a background investigation into Kavanaugh if the White House requested a “follow-up” inquiry.
A spokesman for Biden said in a statement to Fox News that the use of his statement was "clearly an effort on the part of the White House and Senate Republicans to take out of context then-Senator Biden's statements about the role of the FBI in the judicial nomination process to create a smoke-screen for their unprecedented refusal to have the FBI conduct an investigation into credible charges."
"Senator Biden made those comments in response to Senator Hatch's attempts to frame the FBI's 1991 report on Clarence Thomas as exculpatory. His point was that the FBI plays an investigative role in the nomination process; they do not make recommendations," Biden's spokesman said. "That is the sole responsibility of the Senate -- to advise and consent. Vice President Biden believes that the FBI should have investigated in this case in advance of Dr. Blasey Ford's courageous testimony today, just as they did in 1991."