March 16 (UPI) -- Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., on Tuesday called for a congressional review of the FBI's investigation into sexual assault and misconduct allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, saying the probe appears to have been "politically constrained and perhaps fake."
In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, Whitehouse asked for the Justice Department to support a Senate review of the FBI investigation process. He said the agency failed to follow through on leads related to the allegations and did not provide transparency about the information it received through a "tip line" set up to aid the investigation.
"If standard procedures were violated and the bureau conducted a fake investigation rather than a sincere, thorough and professional one, that in my view merits congressional oversight to understand how, why and at whose behest and with whose knowledge or connivance this was done," wrote Whitehouse.
Prior to being confirmed in a 50-48 vote in 2018, Kavanaugh faced multiple allegations of sexual misconduct. Christine Blasey Ford testified before the Senate that he sexually assaulted her at a party when they were in high school.
Whitehouse said that while Kavanaugh disputed her accusations, Ford's testimony and other allegations "justified further investigation to seek corroborating or inconsistent evidence."
He said the FBI failed to interview Max Stier, the president of the Partnership for Public Service and a college classmate of Kavanaugh's, who offered corroborating evidence while members of Congress were made aware of allegations from witnesses who "tried in vain to reach the FBI on their own" but found no one willing to accept testimony.
"When members made inquiries we faced the same experience: the FBI had assigned no person to accept or gather evidence," he said.
Whitehouse noted the FBI ultimately opened up a tip line to receive additional allegations or corroborating evidence but said Congress received "no explanation" of how or whether the allegations were processed and evaluated outside of 1-hour windows to review the materials gathered.
He added, however, that it did not appear the FBI had taken any measure to review the information that was sent through the tip line.
"This 'tip line' appears to have operated more like a garbage chute, with everything that came down the chute consigned without review to the figurative dumpster," he said.
Whitehouse cited July 2019 testimony by FBI Director Christopher Wray before the Senate judiciary committee in which he assured the FBI's investigation was consistent with the agency's practices but refused to answer further questions, accusing the FBI of "stonewalling" lawmakers.
"It cannot and should not be the policy of the FBI to not follow up on serious allegations of misconduct during background check investigations," he said.