Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts referred 15 judicial misconduct complaints against newly-confirmed Justice Brett Kavanaugh to a Colorado federal appeals court, The Washington Post reports.
Roberts had been sitting on the complaints for weeks until Kavanaugh was confirmed. He received the 15 complaints, which were related to Kavanaugh's testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, from a judge on the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, where they were first filed.
The claims are focused on whether Kavanaugh had been dishonest with the committee and whether he lacked the temperament to sit on the high court.
In a letter Wednesday to the US Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, Roberts asked the court in Colorado to “accept the transfer and to exercise the powers of a judicial council with respect to the identified complaints and any pending or new complaints relating to the same subject matter.”
The appeals court is headed by Chief Judge Timothy M. Tymkovich, who, like Kavanaugh, was appointed to the federal bench by former President George W. Bush. He is also one of the judges on President Donald Trump's shortlist of Supreme Court nominees.
But experts say that it's too little, too late now that Kavanaugh has already been confirmed.
“There is nothing that a judicial council could do at this point,” University of Pittsburgh law professor Arthur Hellman told The Washington Post, adding that it was “unprecedented” for a judge to encounter such a situation. He predicted the 10th Circuit would decide the complaints were moot “because it is no longer within their jurisdiction.”
Not only was Kavanaugh confirmed without having the more than dozen complaints against him reviewed by the judiciary, FBI Director Chris Wray admitted to senators Wednesday that the White House limited the bureau's scope of investigation in the probe into sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh.
"Our supplemental update to the previous background investigation was limited in scope and that ... is consistent with the standard process for such investigations going back a long ways," Wray told Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), who sits on the Senate Homeland Security Committee.
"I've spoken with our background investigation specialists and they have assured me this was handled in a way consistent with their experience and the standard process," he added.
He went on to confirm that background investigations differ from typical FBI probes and that the scope of investigation is set by the White House. He did not specify what the White House said can and cannot be investigated.
Harris asked Wray if the FBI looked into whether Kavanaugh lied to the Senate Judiciary Committee during his hearing.
“That’s not something I can discuss here,” Wray replied.
The investigation lasted just five days and neglected to include dozens of witnesses who said they could corroborate the allegations brought by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who said Kavanaugh sexually assaulted and tried to rape her at a high school party, and Deborah Ramirez, who said Kavanaugh exposed himself to her while they both attended Yale University.
“We had many fears that this was a very limited process that would constrain the FBI from getting all of the facts,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said at a news conference after the FBI submitted its report, which was kept from the public. “Those fears have been realized.”
According to the White House, the FBI interviewed just 10 witnesses but not Ford or Kavanaugh. Numerous witnesses told reporters that the FBI refused to return their repeated calls.
“The ‘investigation’ conducted over the past five days is a stain on the process, on the FBI and on our American ideal of justice,” Ford's lawyers wrote in a letter to Wray.
California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, said at the press conference with Schumer that “the most notable part of this report is what’s not in it.”
“It looks to be the product of an incomplete investigation that was limited, perhaps by the White House, I don’t know,” she added.