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GOP claims about FBI background checks completely unravel

Two weeks ago, leading Republicans said the FBI couldn't do an expanded background check on Brett Kavanaugh. We now know how wrong they were.
The J. Edgar Hoover Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) building stands in Washington, D.C., Aug. 8, 2013. (Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg/Getty)
The J. Edgar Hoover Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) building stands in Washington, D.C., Aug. 8, 2013.

Not long after the public learned of Christine Blasey Ford's allegation against Brett Kavanaugh, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee agreed to re-open the confirmation process for an additional hearing. GOP officials were not, however, prepared to endorse an expanded FBI background check.

Donald Trump told reporters on Sept. 18, "I don't think the FBI really should be involved because they don't want to be involved.... As you know, they say this is not really their thing."

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who at one point said the Republican judge should be confirmed even if the allegations are true, added, "The FBI does not do investigations like this."

In fact, the Utah Republican wrote an entire piece on the subject for the Washington Examiner, a conservative outlet, arguing that FBI scrutiny should not -- and to a degree, cannot -- happen in this case.

[T]he allegations do not involve any potential crime over which the FBI would have jurisdiction, and it is not the role of the FBI during background investigations to judge the credibility of accusations. Rather, the FBI's role is to evaluate whether a nominee could pose a national security risk.Democrats point to the Anita Hill investigation as an analogue, but Hill was a federal employee alleging misconduct by a superior on federal property. There was a clear federal nexus. No such nexus exists here.

Maybe now would be a good time for a little accountability?

Even at the time, we knew that the argument Trump and Hatch, among others, were peddling was wrong. But now that the White House has approved the re-opened FBI examination of Kavanaugh that Democrats sought, it's obvious that people who really ought to know better pushed a line that was plainly false.

All that was required was a president willing to issue a straightforward directive to the bureau. Thanks to Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Trump wasn't given much of a choice, but the bottom line remains the same: no federal "nexus" was necessary.