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Sen. Rounds: ‘No shocker’ in FBI report on Kavanaugh

Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., says the FBI report on its reopened background investigation into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and claims of sexual misconduct "confirmed what we had already heard" in the hearings. Rounds joins Judy Woodruff to discuss the concerns raised by Democrats about the probe, how Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations were handled, as well as Kavanaugh’s temperament.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    And now how all this looks on Capitol Hill.

    Republican Senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota has read the FBI report. He read it earlier today. And he joins us now.

    Senator, what did you make of the FBI report? You perhaps have just heard from this former agent we have spoken with. And we're also hearing from Democrats who are criticizing the limits placed on the investigation.

  • Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D.:

    Well, first — first of all, there were no new items. There was no shocker any place.

    There was lots more detail for us to listen to with regard to the — to the explanations made by individuals, but nothing that shocked anybody, no new revelations, confirmation of what had already been said or discussed within the public's review during the — during the hearings that came up.

    Basically, it confirmed what we'd already heard. But they did go through the process with a number of different witnesses, who basically showed no collaboration with any of the allegations that had been made to begin with. And, basically, there was nothing new there that we hadn't basically heard about that had relevancy to the — to the issues at hand.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So you weren't bothered that they placed limits on the people they could talk to?

  • Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D.:

    Well, I — I think that the question that had been raised was, why weren't we having the judge and also a Professor Ford once again reviewed?

    But remember that, in this case, as in all cases, the FBI will do an investigation, what they call 302, which is basic information, asking about issues, and the accusations specific. But both Professor Ford and Judge Kavanaugh went through literally hours and hours of testimony in front of the individuals who are the decision-makers, which are the Judiciary Committee and for all of us who listened to that testimony, which we not only were able to listen to once, but go back through and review again.

    And I suspect that what happened is, they said, look, we have already gone through, and we have had a chance to ask questions and double down with regard to the questions and concerns that senators had on each of these two individuals.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    We know, Senator, that Dr. Blasey Ford contacted her member of Congress back in early July, before Judge Kavanaugh had been named. She contacted — she reached out when she thought he — he was just under consideration. She wanted to get the information across.

    Democrats are now conceding that it may not have been handled very well once the name was passed on to Congress. But their point is, once that information was out there, isn't there an obligation to explore it fully?

  • Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D.:

    We think it has been explored fully.

    And, in fact, you are correct. It wasn't handled right. He had made the short list. And that's when apparently there had been contact made. If that data had been brought forward in a regular order, if it had been discussed among the committee, like all of these traditionally are, that information could have been vetted in those six weeks in which it was hidden from basically the majority part of the committee.

    And then on top of it, when it was leaked, and she wasn't given the information by our own attorneys, apparently, that the committee would offer her a private discussion in California, and she says she didn't know anything about it, that really started — honestly, it made a lot of us think that this — that there was some intent there that wasn't appropriate.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Senator…

  • Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D.:

    And I think that still stands today.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Senator, excuse me.

    I want to read to you something that Judge Kavanaugh said as part of his opening statement last week before the Judiciary Committee. He said the accusations against him were part of an orchestrated political hit, fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election and revenge on behalf of the Clintons.

    Do you believe Dr. Blasey Ford was put up to this by Democrats who were out for revenge?

  • Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D.:

    I think Professor Ford was probably not honored the way she should have been with her request by those individuals who saw political gain to begin with.

    And I think, in listening to her, I — I felt very sorry for the position that she had been put in. But I also think you saw something else here. And I read it this way, because I watched very carefully as he expressed the real frustration that I think a lot of us in his position what have.

    What you saw was a man who was going to call balls and strikes. We talked about him and his judicial temperament to begin with, and said, he's going to be a straight shooter. He's going to lay it out.

    And what you found was a man who didn't hide his feelings. He said, look, you just threw four balls by me. One of them — this one here, you are throwing at my head. And he called it just exactly the way that he saw it.

    And so he expressed the frustration and the anger that I think was just. And for Professor Ford, this could have been done in a private setting. It was all — she never got that information, because somebody didn't deliver it to her. And it wasn't the folks who were responsible for operating the committee that didn't do that.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Senator, I hear you.

    Just finally, very quickly, former Justice John Paul Stevens in an interview today said he once thought Brett Kavanaugh did have the qualification to serve on the court based on his record, but he said, watching him in the hearings changed his mind.

    He said senators should pay attention to that.

  • Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D.:

    Well, I think a lot of us did. And that's part of the responsibility that we have, is to — and we were there. We watched it.

    But there's other something else as well. And that is, is we still have 300 cases that Judge Kavanaugh has issued rulings on that we can go back and look at. It shows a lot about judicial determination, judicial judgment. It's been well-respected over an extended period of time.

    And what you're finding right now is a man who has been attacked. His family has been attacked. He's been through a process that literally, I think, when it's all said and done, I think he's going to have a huge respect for the value of someone who is innocent to — to have the right to be innocent until such time as he is proven guilty.

    And if nothing else, I think that has been seared into his mind forevermore, if it wasn't there already.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Senator Mike Rounds, thank you very much.

  • Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D.:

    Thank you.

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