Asked for his thoughts on the official report from the FBI regarding its time-limited investigation into the sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, Senator Robert "Bob" Menendez (D-NJ) was as direct as he could be.
"If that's an investigation, it's a bullshit investigation," he said. "The reality is that is not a full and thorough investigation. Evidently, the Republicans who gave the direction to the FBI of what could be investigated was extremely limited."
"You don't, you know, I hear a lot about a lack of corroboration and you don't get corroborating information if you don't talk to corroborating witnesses and that obviously didn't happen here," he continued. "And so I'm amazed, I'm amazed for the highest court in the land that this is the type of report the FBI produces."
Menendez knows a thing or two about FBI investigations: In 2015, he pleaded not guilty to federal corruption charges related to alleged favors he did for a Florida ophthalmologist and the gifts he received from him in return. (The charges against him were later dropped by the Justice Department.)
That hasn't stopped many from agreeing with his assessment, considering the enormous amount of pushback the FBI's report has received from politicians and the general public alike in light of the limits placed upon the investigation and the knowledge that the bureau declined to interview the witnesses suggested by the attorneys for Kavanaugh's accusers.
Democrats have heavily criticized the FBI investigation, calling it a "sham" and "a horrific cover-up."
"The whole thing is sham. Five days to do the investigation," said Senator Tim Kaine (VA), who noted that many witnesses had not been interviewed.
Referring to a secure location where senators can read the report for a limited amount of time, he said: "And so, here is what they do. There is now a report. One copy. Only one copy that's available in the Senate SCIF. So they don't want 100 senators to read it. I'm not allowed to discuss it. The public can't see it. It's a complete sham."
"It's obviously a cover-up," said his colleague Ed Markey (MA). "The Trump White House, working with the Republican leadership in the Senate, have deliberately circumscribed this investigation."
After reading the report, Senator Dianne Feinstein (CA), the leading Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, claimed that the investigation was “incomplete.”
“What we reviewed today ... it looks to be a product of an incomplete investigation that was limited perhaps by the White House,” she said.
She also took to Twitter to say that Democrats' "previous concerns about Judge Kavanaugh's truthfulness have also not been assuaged by this investigation" and reiterated that it is "impossible" to take the investigation seriously when so many corroborating witnesses were not interviewed.
The White House is increasingly certain that Kavanaugh will be confirmed now that several Republican senators crucial to the final vote have expressed satisfaction with the findings of the FBI investigation.
Kavanugh's fate falls to a small group of undecided Republican senators.
According to Senator Susan Collins (ME), “it appears to be a very thorough investigation, but I’m going back later to personally read the interviews.”
Senator Jeff Flake (AZ), who requested the investigation and delayed the vote following both Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford’s testimonies before the Senate Judiciary Committee, told reporters that “we’ve seen no additional corroborating information.”
By contrast, Senator Lisa Murkowski (AK), per one report, said “that she did not yet know whether the FBI had been thorough enough in its investigation or spoken to enough witnesses.”
The Washington Post reported that the FBI's investigation had been "highly curtailed" and that it had focused primarily on the allegations brought to light by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who in her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week recalled when Kavanaugh assaulted her during a high school party. The FBI did not interview Dr. Ford, deeming her Senate testimony sufficient.
The FBI did interview Deborah Ramirez, who says Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a Yale fraternity party, but Ramirez's legal team has no indication that the FBI interviewed any of the corroborating witnesses they provided. Nor did the bureau interview Julie Swetnick, who says Kavanaugh was present at a house party in 1982 where she alleges she was the victim of a gang rape,