STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
To hear Republicans tell it, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is a victim. President Trump has mocked his main accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, who says that she was sexually assaulted by him decades ago. And in Rochester, Minn., yesterday, President Trump cast the Supreme Court vote in purely partisan terms.
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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Democrats have been trying to destroy Judge Brett Kavanaugh since...
TRUMP: ...The very first second he was announced. And he was announced for one simple reason - he is an incredible intellect.
INSKEEP: Kavanaugh himself said that he was the victim of a conspiracy of Democrats seeking revenge on behalf of the Clintons. Yesterday, the nominee vaguely backed off of that assertion, saying that he said some things he shouldn't have in his public testimony, although he did not specify what those things were. Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal is on the Senate judiciary committee, which has been considering Kavanaugh's nomination, which now goes before the full Senate. Senator, good morning.
RICHARD BLUMENTHAL: Good morning to you. Thank you for having me.
INSKEEP: So let's note that you have had an opportunity, as other senators have, to view the FBI report - the additional background information looking into the allegations against Kavanaugh. What did you see?
BLUMENTHAL: What's most striking about this report is what's missing. There are no interviews with some of the really key witnesses, including Dr. Blasey Ford and Judge Kavanaugh themselves, as well as other eyewitnesses. There is evidence that should have been pursued, leads that should've been followed, answers that should've been sought. And it has all the appearances of a whitewash.
INSKEEP: Although, let me just ask about that, Senator, because although it is true that there's not a very large number of witnesses who were identified and interviewed, Mark Judge was interviewed, we are told. And that is the individual that Dr. Blasey Ford said was in the room at the time of this sexual assault. He hadn't been interviewed before - just made a general statement denying any knowledge. Now he's been interviewed by the professionals. Did they find anything?
BLUMENTHAL: Well, I can't go into what was found and what's in the report. But let me just speak generally. Every interview conducted by the FBI leads to additional witnesses and information that has to be pursued. Just as great journalists of NPR pursue leads after they hear them in interviews, so do the FBI agents. What happened here was that the FBI was circumscribed as to who they could interview and how long they had. And as a result, we have a very incomplete and inadequate report.
INSKEEP: Granting that, is it a correct statement made by Republicans when they say there still is no corroboration of the allegations against the Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh?
BLUMENTHAL: That's incorrect. So is the contention that there is no hint of misconduct. There is - it's a matter of public record - powerful testimony in this interview. Although it's not in court, it's in the interview from Deborah Ramirez. And the specific eyewitnesses and other leads that should've been pursued about her are nowhere here, including, by the way, a Connecticut constituent who had information about Judge Kavanaugh reaching out to some of those witnesses in an apparent effort to shape their contentions to a New Yorker interview. And that outreach contradicts his testimony.
INSKEEP: Let me just untangle that in the minute that we have left here. There have been some allegations - some suggestions that there may have been contact between Brett Kavanaugh and people close to him and Deborah Ramirez and people close to her before that story was revealed. It's our understanding that Republicans have looked at that evidence and not found anything there. There's some text messages that are subject to interpretation. Are you alleging there is solid evidence that Kavanaugh himself was involved in some kind of cover-up?
BLUMENTHAL: There's certainly evidence of that outreach. But here are two important points. First of all, this report should be made public, so you and I can engage in a real conversation and so that the contentions I'm making can be supported by pointing to parts of the report. Second, this issue of temperament has now come to the fore, especially after John Paul Stevens yesterday, the former Supreme Court justice, said that his performance at the committee last Thursday was disqualifying - the self-pitying, arrogant, acrimonious, threatening demeanor that he brought to the court in many ways unmasked the judge and showed us the real man.
INSKEEP: We'll have to stop the conversation there - so much to say. And some of you will get to say it on the Senate floor this morning. Senator Blumenthal, thanks very much.
BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.
INSKEEP: That's Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.