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Former magistrate charged with sexual assault

by staff writer

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, Oct 19, CMC – A former magistrate has been released on EC$10,000 (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) bail after he was charged Thursday with sexually assaulting a 24-year-old woman.

Thew attorney, who is now in private practice, will appear in court on November 27 for the start of preliminary investigations in the allegations against him.

The 68-year-old, who is accused of touching the female in different parts of her body without consent, faces the possibility of being sentenced to prison for 14 years if convicted.

According to the Criminal Code, a person commits the offence of sexual assault if he or she unlawfully penetrate the genital organs of another person with, any part of the body of another person or that person.

Sexual assault also occurs if the other person does not consent to the penetration and if he or she does not believe that the other person consents to such penetration or is reckless as to whether the other person consents or not.

Former president of the Grenada Bar Association,  Ruggles Ferguson, said that as a member of the legal profession there is no automatic disbarment if the attorney is convicted.

“Any form of discipline after a conviction has to be under in accordance with the legal profession act and it must be noted that disbarment is the ultimate form of discipline, there are other actions that can be taken like suspension,” he said.

In Montserrat a prominent lawyer has been charged with counts of sexual related charges allegedly committed against a minor since September 2015. The matter has been held up with legal battles, reaching the Courts of Appeal.

 

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CCJ dismisses Titan’s million dollar claim

CCJ dismisses Titan’s million dollar claim

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Oct 17, CMC – The Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice Wednesday dismissed a claim by the Belize-based Titan International Securities Inc (Titan) for US$4.46 million  in losses as a result of a search and seizure operation conducted at its offices in September 2014.

But the CCJ, which is the country’s highest court, ordered the Belize government to pay Titan vindicatory damages of BZ$100,000 (One Belize dollar=US$0.49 cents) for the way in which the operation was conducted.

The CCJ heard that in September 2014, an indictment was unsealed in the United States charging Titan, its president. Kelvin Leach, and 11 others with securities fraud, evasion of taxes, money laundering and conspiracy to commit those offences.

The US Department of Justice requested the assistance of the Belize government to have Titan’s offices searched as quickly as possible to prevent the destruction of evidence.

A magistrate acting under the mutual assistance law granted a warrant to local police officers as well as officers of the Financial Intelligence Unit to search for and seize documents which might be used as evidence.

The warrant was read to Leach, who was on the premises when the officers arrived, but it was not given to him. Additionally, he did not receive a list of items seized by the authorities and Titan’s attorney was not allowed to enter the offices during the search.

While the search was being conducted, Titan was informed, via email, by the International Financial Services Commission that its licence had been suspended. The licence has since expired, and it was never renewed.

In December 2014, Titan filed proceedings in the Supreme Court in which it alleged that the mutual assistance law was unconstitutional and that the search was executed in an unreasonable and oppressive manner, claiming that its constitutional rights were breached.

But Justice Abel disagreed with Titan’s contention that the law which granted the power to conduct the search and seizure exercise was unconstitutional. He found that there were limitations and safeguards within the law which sufficiently protected the public from a breach of their constitutional rights.

He did, however, find that the search was executed in an unreasonable and excessive, but not oppressive, manner. As a result, he concluded that Titan was entitled to compensation and awarded them US$4.46 million, representing 20 per cent of its original claim of US$22 million.

The Court of Appeal agreed that the search was carried out in an unreasonable and excessive manner but held that Titan failed to show a link between the loss claimed and the constitutional breach. In its view, the taking of the property was not the cause of the shutting down of Titan’s business; it was caused by the suspension and non-renewal of the licence.

The CCJ agreed with the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal that the law itself was not unconstitutional, but that Titan’s right to privacy had been violated.

The CCJ concluded that Titan failed to prove the link between the breach of its constitutional right and the closure of its business.

Like the Court of Appeal, the CCJ was of the view that Titan’s loss was caused by the suspension and non-renewal of the licence.

The CCJ did, however, award Titan BZ$100,000 in vindicatory damages after it considered the high-handed manner in which the search and seizure operation was conducted.

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Caribbean Court of Justice orders release of convicted murderer

Caribbean Court of Justice orders release of convicted murderer

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Oct 17, CMC – The Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) Wednesday ordered the release of Japhet Bennett, who had been found guilty of a 2009 murder in Belize.

Bennett had been convicted of murdering Ellis Meighan Sr. in Belize City and was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2013.

During his trial, Marlon Middleton, the brother in law of the murdered man denied sections of his statement to the police that had identified Bennett as standing over the body with a gun.   The jury, however, found him guilty of murder despite a submission by his attorney that there was little evidence to convict his client.

But the CCJ, by a 4-1 majority decision, allowed Bennett’s appeal after it found that there had been no other evidence which could have allowed the jury to properly assess the reliability of Middleton’s statement, and for that reason, the trial judge should have stopped the trial.

Justice Denys Barrow explained that there was no useful value in Middleton’s description of the shooter, his attire and the gun because there was no other evidence to confirm any of these matters.

He said that on the evidence “the jury would have been left to guess and could only reach a guilty verdict on a gut feeling”.

Additionally, Justice Barrow found the fact that Middleton waited two days to make the statement, in circumstances where he was first on the scene of his sister’s husband murder, undermined the reliability of his statement.

But Madame Rajnauth-Lee did not agree with the other members of the panel who heard the appeal. She contended that this was a case where an eyewitness sufficiently recognised someone known to him. In light of the very detailed description of the shooter, and the conditions in which he was identified, it was therefore a matter for the jury to determine whether to believe Middleton’s statement to the police or his denial of that statement in court.

In 2009, Mr. Middleton had given a detailed statement to the police two days after Meighan was shot and killed. He claimed that he was riding his bicycle in the vicinity of the shooting when he heard gunshots.   Middleton said that he then sped towards the area and saw a body on the ground. He said also he saw a man, who he recognised as Bennett, standing about two feet away from the body with a gun in his hand. His statement also revealed that Middleton had been approximately 40 feet away from the body, in a well-lit area, with nothing obstructing his view.  Additionally, he stated that he had known Bennett for about four months and had seen him one week before the shooting.

But at the trial Middleton denied that he had seen Bennett at the scene of the crime.

The prosecution pointed out that Middleton had given a contradictory statement to the police and that that statement was made of his own free will and was accurately recorded by a police officer, in the presence of a Justice of the Peace, and signed by Middleton.

The trial judge admitted the statement into evidence and it was read aloud to the jury. There was no other evidence linking Bennett to the shooting.

Bennett’s lawyer then requested that the judge stop the case and direct that the jury acquit his client of all charges as there was insufficient evidence linking him to the crime.

The judge refused the request and the jury eventually found Bennett guilty of murder.

The matter was then appealed to the Court of Appeal of Belize, but that court upheld. Bennett’s conviction.

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Opposition not in agreement with deployment of RSS troops

Opposition not in agreement with deployment of RSS troops

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, Oct 16, CMC – The main opposition St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) says it is not in agreement with a decision by the Timothy Harris government to allow for the deployment of members of the Regional Security Services (RSS) in a bid to  enhance the safety and security on the twin island Federation.

SKNLP leader and former prime minister Dr. Denzil Douglas has written to the chairman of the sub-regional Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves expressing his party’s position on the matter. St. Kitts-Nevis belongs to the nine-member grouping.

Opposition Leader Dr. Denzil Douglas (File Photo)

In the letter, Douglas said that “since the coming to power of Dr Harris …(there has been) a palpable shift away from our position of democracy towards a dictatorship.

“The opposition is being systematically stifled through the illegal curtailment of our right to speak in parliament, to the denial of access to public spaces such as community centers and the denial of access to the state-owned radio and television,” Douglas said.

In a radio and television broadcast on Sunday night, Prime Minister Harris defended the deployment of the RSS troops telling the nation ‘we are concerned that there must be a reduction in the incidences of criminal acts in our country.

“In this regard, we have over time engaged civil society and our security forces in conversations about what can and should be done,” the Prime Minister said, adding that after consultation with the police high command and other technocrats in the Ministry of National Security , the Cabinet approved a recommendation to invite the RSS.

“The High Command of the Police has advised that the Force would benefit from additional manpower at this time.  The shortage of manpower affects the ability of the Police to properly execute their strategic plan and has prompted the call from them for the RSS to augment the number of security personnel on the ground.”

Harris said the RSS forces which started arriving here last week would “continue to arrive into St. Kitts and Nevis in sufficient numbers to assist our ongoing efforts at ensuring citizen safety and security”.

He said that they are already being deployed throughout the communities with local national security personnel, and it is believed that their presence will help local law enforcement to expand the extent of their coverage of the country.

But the Opposition Leader said that the party has understood there are plans to imprison key supporters in the coming weeks.

“We have learnt through our intelligence that the next phase of Dr Harris’ campaign of dictatorship will be the imprisonment of members of the opposition and key opposition supporters,” he said, noting that over the past four months, two senior police officers resident in his district and who performed security details for him had been shot “under unexplained circumstances.

“Two of the persons allegedly involved in the shooting deaths of the police officers have themselves been executed in shootouts, one in which the police was involved and the other under strange circumstances”.

Douglas further alleged that a police officer who had been assisting him was recently arrested and denied bail on the grounds that he was driving with an expired licence. He said the matter will be heard in court on November 29.

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Man given life sentence for raping eight year-old child

Man given life sentence for raping eight year-old child

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Oct 3, CMC – A 34-year-old man was sentenced to life imprisonment after he was found guilty of raping an eight year old child three years ago.

The Court heard that David Alexander, who opted not to endure a trial and entered the guilty plea before Justice JoAnn Barlow started the case, committed the offence on February 24, 2015.

“Guilty with explanation…” the accused said, and his attorney, Clyde Forde, said that his client claimed that at the time of the incident he was drunk and cannot remember all that occurred on the day of the incident.

He offered an apology to the Court and his victim.

“He was just 31 at that time living with his brother and has no previous convictions.” Forde said, adding that his client saved the court much judicial time and pleaded with the judge to consider the factors and exercise justice with mercy.

In her letter to the Court, the young victim expressed her ongoing hurt over the incident, explaining that it was something she will never forget. The child said she thought she was about to be killed.

Before handing down her sentence, Justice Barlow said being drunk cannot be an excuse for the crime committed.

She said that the child was traumatized by the incident and had to undergo surgeries for the injuries she sustained during the heinous act.

“In this case there is no mitigating circumstance because of the damage done,” she said, adding that when consuming alcohol, a man must remain in control of his faculties and that is no excuse for causing damage, especially to that of an eight-year-old.

The judge said that while in prison, Alexander should be exposed to counselling sessions, classes for alcohol problems and use his time to reflect on what he had done.

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NCC chairman denies public education one-sided in favour of CCJ

NCC chairman denies public education one-sided in favour of CCJ

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Oct 3, CMC – The chairman of the National Coordinating Committee (NCC) spearheading the public education and sensitization programme on the Privy Council and the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Dr. Clarence Henry, Wednesday dismissed suggestions that the campaign leading up to next month’s referendum is “one–sided” and appealed to nationals to get as much information on the issue ahead of the vote.

Antigua and Barbuda will vote on November 6 on whether or not to replace the London-based Privy Council with the CCJ as the island’s highest and final court.

Dr. Clarence Henry

Speaking at a breakfast meeting organised by the Antigua and Barbuda Chamber of Commerce and the NCC, Henry urged nationals to ensure they are well informed on the issue before casting their ballots next month.

“Let your voices be heard. Please be an arm chair pundit utilizing the safety of your chair or bedroom to speak to the issues,” he said, noting “every time we approach persons who support the Privy Council to engage as a panelist, only a few answer the call.
“Yet I hear the untrue accusation of one-sided campaign. That is far from the truth or reality,” he said, insisting that the question in the education drive is whether Antigua and Barbuda should migrate from the Privy Council to the Trinidad-based CCJ.

“The voting public will determine that question in a referendum on November 6…, much like general elections, where you are required to go visit the prescribed voting station, and in the booth answer “yes” or “no”. It is your decision that will determine Antigua and Barbuda’s fate.”

He acknowledged the results of the referendum will have “wide ranging implications for the country’s future,” saying that the mandate of the NCC is to help in that determination by providing the requisite information and facts so that voters could make an informed choice.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, brother and sisters, comrades: please take these matters seriously. Please do not ignore the discussions, but take the time to obtain the unadulterated truth. Do not go down the wrong path believing that the decision on referendum day will not affect you. It will.”

He said he was challenging voters not to be overwhelmed by the avalanche of information, but carefully sift through to determine what fake or genuine.

“Only you, can determine that through research. There are a large volume of primary and secondary materials to assist in your discovery of the facts.

“Moreover, I urge you to critically analyze what the purveyors of gloom and doom, those arm-chair pundits that meddle in every discussion, who pretend to be the bastions of wisdom and the paragons of virtue on every conceivable subject, who never seem to see the greater good in developmental matters, only to espouse negative traits of discouragement ignoring the essence of a pragmatic vision surrounding the development of our countries. “

Henry said the time has come for Antigua and Barbuda to seriously discuss the ramifications of staying with the Privy Council or going with the CCJ  saying pivotal to the discussions is the macro-economic, political and legislative underpinning of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) “ the platform for growth and sustainable development of our countries”.

The CCJ was established in 2001 and while many of the Caribbean countries are signatories to its Original jurisdiction, only Barbados, Belize, Dominica and Guyana have signed on to the court’s Appellate jurisdiction. The CCJ also serves as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the 15-member regional integration movement.

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Court grants man million dollar bail

Court grants man million dollar bail

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Oct 9, CMC – A 42-year-old man, who was arrested in January after police allegedly found an estimated EC$12 million (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) worth of cocaine in his possession, has been granted bail.

High Court judge, Keith Thom granted bail to Deon Perkins who has been charged with possession, possession with intent to transfer, being concerned with the supply of cocaine and trafficking 286 bricks or 740.8 pounds of cocaine.

The drugs has a street value of EC$11.807 million.

Police said that the accused was arrested by officers of the Office of National Drug and Money Laundering Control Policy (ONDCP) on January 3 near the Sir George Walter Highway.

His attorney Warren Cassell said bail had been secured in the sum of one million dollars and that 10 pieces of land had been put up as security to make sure Perkins is available for all his court dates and trial.

In addition, Perkins has to surrender his passport to the court, avoid any contact with the witnesses in the state’s case against him, and report to the policy on a daily basis.

The accused is also required to continue residing at his current address and should give the authorities, in writing, 48 hours if he plans to re-locate.

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Opposition Leader wins defamation lawsuit against her former cabinet colleague

Opposition Leader wins defamation lawsuit against her former cabinet colleague

 

October 10, 2018
88 views
 

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Oct 10, CMC – A High Court Wednesday ruled in favour of Opposition Leader Kamla Persad Bissessar, in her defamation lawsuit against the Sunshine Publishing Company Limited owned by Austin Jack Warner, who once served as a senior minister in her coalition People’s Partnership government.

Austin Jack Warner and Kamla Persad Bissessar in happier times (File Photo)

Persad Bissessar had taken the legal action after the newspaper published an article on December 4, 2015, under the headline “Kamla facing extradition to US”.

The article was based on an October 12, 2012 letter allegedly from then United States Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

When the matter came up for hearing in the San Fernando High Court, south of here on Wednesday, Persad Bissessar confirmed that the contents of her witness statement filed in March 2017, were true.

Justice David Harris said there is to be damages for libel inclusive of aggravating and exemplary damages and cost for the claimant. He also ordered that there be an injunction restricting the defendant from further publishing the allegation or any similar allegation and cost for the claim.

Damages are to be assessed before a Master on a date to be fixed.

Warner was not present in court.

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BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, Oct 10, CMC – Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris says joining the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) is not a priority for his coalition administration in St Kitts and Nevis.

Harris, speaking on WINN FM radio here said that his government is not treating membership of the CCJ that was established in 2001 to replace the London-based Privy Council as the region’s final court, as a priority at this time.

“In terms of the CCJ the cabinet has not made a determination with respect to that matter, it is a matter we will perhaps consider at a more proficient time. At this moment I think there is a sense that the Privy Council is favoured by the national community,” Harris said.

St. Kitts-Nevis is among Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries that have signed on to the original Jurisdiction of the CCJ. However, only Barbados, Belize, Dominica and Guyana are signatoresi to the appellate Jurisdiction of the Court that also functions as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the regional integration movement, CARICOM.

Antigua and Barbuda and Grenada are due to hold national referendum on November 6 to determine whether or not to replace the Privy Council.

Harris told radio listeners that the issue of replacing the Privy Council with the CCJ is among the matters “that before we attend to this we will put before the people, have an educational programme with regard to any movement away from the Privy Council and get a good grounding from the people where they want to go because there are very strong views for and against on that one.

“It is a matter someday we will have to confront, we don’t need to confront it today, so it is not a priority consideration at this time for the Team Unity administration,” he added.

Former CCJ president, Sir Dennis Byron, a citizen of the twin island Federation, said recently that the CCJ is not a party issue and that a referendum often requires a two-thirds majority for change.

“What has been happening in our country is because of the cost, and the complexities and the difficulty of going to the Privy Council our people have not been having a final appeal. They just have a case and a court of appeal and most people have to stop there even if they are not satisfied.

“The CCJ has put a stop to that because, in the countries that have adopted our jurisdiction, people are coming to us. It’s easier, it’s cheaper, it’s on the spot and if you look at some of the decisions that we have made it’s impacted on the day to day life of the communities in ways in which the Privy Council never do,’ Sir Dennis had said.

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The Washington Post

GOP’s Grassley says FBI probe finds no hint of ‘misconduct’ by Kavanaugh; Democrats dispute that, say White House restricted FBI

TMR: Here goes! Will the suppresion of truth and minimising of investigation convince those important to the fray and injustice (improper research and investigation and misguided attention to inability to prove supported ‘sexual misconduct’ forgetting or ignoring all the rest that points to underlying misbeliefs, win the day for America and the (western) world eventually? But, it didn’t start there, it just got hightened! Yet it is still unbelievable.
White House says it has received FBI report on Kavanaugh

The White House said Oct. 4 that it had received the FBI’s completed report on the sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh.

October 4 at 10:56 AM

BREAKING NEWS: The dueling assessments on Thursday came as senators read the FBI background check of the Supreme Court nominee. Brett M. Kavanaugh had faced allegations of sexual misconduct, including an accusation from Christine Blasey Ford that he assaulted her when they were teenagers.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said in a statement that the “uncorroborated accusations have been unequivocally and repeatedly rejected by Judge Kavanaugh, and neither the Judiciary Committee nor the FBI could locate any third parties who can attest to any of the allegations.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), the top Democrat on the committee, told reporters that the report was a “product of an incomplete investigation.” Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he disagreed with Grassley’s assessment.

The Senate is heading toward a procedural vote on Friday and if Republicans prevail, Kavanaugh would be on track to a lifetime appointment to the nation’s highest court.

This a developing story and will be updated.

As the Senate began reviewing the new FBI report on Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh on Thursday, both Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley and the White House stood by President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, saying the investigation found nothing sufficient to corroborate allegations of sexual misconduct while Kavanaugh was a teenager.

“There’s nothing in it that we didn’t already know,” Grassley (R-Iowa) said in a statement after being briefed on the report by his staff. “It’s time to vote.”

Democrats have protested that the FBI probe was rushed and too limited in scope, and lawyers for Kavanaugh’s accusers say the bureau declined to interview multiple witnesses who could have backed up their accounts.

White House spokesman Raj Shah said Thursday that the FBI agents had reached out to 10 witnesses — nine of whom were interviewed — and that no one had corroborated the account of Christine Blasey Ford, the first woman to accuse Kavanaugh of sexual assault.

“The president, the White House are firmly behind Brett Kavanaugh,” Shah said during an appearance Thursday morning on CNN. “We believe that all the Senate’s questions have been addressed through this supplemental FBI investigation.”

In an earlier tweet, Shah said the White House is “fully confident” that the Senate will confirm Kavanaugh, whose nomination has been roiled by the allegations of three women about his behavior more than three decades ago.

 
 
‘Wrong, vile, appalling’: Trump mocking Ford spurs outrage

President Trump’s comments mocking Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony on her allegation against Brett M. Kavanaugh caused widespread backlash.

In anticipation of the FBI report’s arrival, on Wednesday night, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) teed up a key vote to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination for Friday.

Until that vote, senators will be rushing in and out of a secure facility at the Capitol to review the sensitive FBI report.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and other Democrats plan to hold a news conference at 11 a.m. to speak about the report.

In morning tweets, Trump decried what he said was “harsh and unfair treatment” of Kavanaugh, who has undergone previous FBI background checks for other federal jobs, and accused Democrats of obstructing the confirmation process.

“This is now the 7th. time the FBI has investigated Judge Kavanaugh,” Trump wrote. “If we made it 100, it would still not be good enough for the Obstructionist Democrats.”

In his statement, Grassley said that “this investigation found no hint of misconduct and the same is true of the six prior FBI background investigations conducted during Judge Kavanaugh’s 25 years of public service.”

In tweets starting around 4 a.m., Grassley announced that the panel had received the report from the White House and that he and its top Democrat had “agreed to alternating EQUAL access for senators to study content from additional background info gathered by nonpartisan FBI agents.”

The FBI’s report will be available at a sensitive compartmented information facility, or SCIF, in the Capitol Visitor Center, a secure room designed for senators to review sensitive or classified material, two Senate officials said. Just one physical copy of the report will be available, and only to senators and 10 committee staffers cleared to view the material.

The two parties will take turns having access to the FBI report in shifts, according to a senior Senate official. It will rotate throughout the rest of the day Thursday and potentially into Friday, with staff members simultaneously briefing senators.

But even before the report was formally sent to the Senate, lawyers for Ford criticized what they viewed as an incomplete FBI probe.

“An FBI supplemental background investigation that did not include an interview of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford — nor the witnesses who corroborate her testimony — cannot be called an investigation,” her legal team said in a statement. “We are profoundly disappointed that after the tremendous sacrifice she made in coming forward, those directing the FBI investigation were not interested in seeking the truth.”

On Thursday, a lawyer for Deborah Ramirez, who has accused Kavanaugh of exposing himself while in college, sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher A. Wray making the same claim.

The letter noted that Ramirez had been interviewed by the FBI for two hours Sunday in Colorado and later provided a list of 20 people who might corroborate her account of Kavanaugh’s behavior.

“Fewer than four days, later, however, the FBI apparently has concluded its investigation — without permitting its agents to investigate,” wrote Ramirez lawyer William Pittard. “We are deeply disappointed by this failure.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, also took issue Wednesday with the decision not to interview Ford and Kavanaugh, both of whom testified at a high-stakes hearing last week, suggesting that the White House had prevented the FBI from contacting them.

“Last week’s hearing is no substitute for FBI interviews, especially when you consider the tenor of Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony,” Feinstein said in a statement. “When he wasn’t yelling and demeaning senators, he was making misleading statements that cast doubt on his overall trustworthiness. I don’t think that would happen with FBI agents seated across the table.”

The reopened FBI investigation was prompted by reservations expressed last by Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) about moving forward on a full Senate vote without further examination of the accusations of Ford and other “credible” accusers.

Even as the White House gave the FBI permission to broaden its examination, it continued to hold the bureau to a strict timeline.

Moreover, the inquiry focused mainly on the account of Ford, the research psychologist who alleges that a drunken Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were high school students in the Washington suburbs.

The Washington Post reported Wednesday that the White House had restricted the FBI from scrutinizing the nominee’s drinking habits, as well as possible disparities between his alcohol consumption as a young man and his account before Congress.

Much of the focus Thursday will be on the reactions of three Republicans whose votes are considered key to Kavanaugh’s fate: Flake, Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska).

On Wednesday, all three took issue with Trump’s mocking of Ford the night before at a political rally in Mississippi that drew laughs from his supporters.

“What I want is I want to see the report,” Murkowski told reporters last night. “That’s what I’m waiting for.”

Besides Flake, Collins and Murkowski, Democratic Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) and Joe Manchin III (W.Va.) also have yet to announce how they will vote.

While trying to round up votes on his side, McConnell has also taken sharp aim at Democrats, accusing them of trying to “move the goal posts” on Kavanaugh’s confirmation fight by suggesting that Friday would be too soon for a key vote on him.

Senate Democrats opened a new front Wednesday in their objections to the investigations of Kavanaugh’s conduct, suggesting in a letter to Grassley that past FBI background checks of Kavanaugh include evidence of inappropriate behavior, without disclosing specifics.

The letter, signed by eight of the 10 Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, challenged the accuracy of a tweet from the committee’s Republican staff on Tuesday that said: “Nowhere in any of these six FBI reports, which the committee has reviewed on a bipartisan basis, was there ever a whiff of ANY issue — at all — related in any way to inappropriate sexual behavior or alcohol abuse.” 

The Democrats said the information in the tweet is “not accurate,” urging the GOP to correct it.

“It is troubling that the committee majority has characterized information from Judge Kavanaugh’s confidential background investigation on Twitter, as that information is confidential and not subject to public release,” the Democrats, led by Sen. Richard J. Durbin (Ill.), wrote to Grassley. “If the committee majority is going to violate that confidentiality and characterize this background investigation publicly, you must at least be honest about it.”

The two committee Democrats who did not sign the letter were Sens. Christopher A. Coons (Del.) and Amy Klobuchar (Minn.). 

Grassley’s staff responded on Twitter that “nothing in the tweet is inaccurate or misleading.” 

“The committee stands by its statement, which is completely truthful,” the committee Republicans said. “More baseless innuendo and more false smears from Senate Democrats.”

Josh Dawsey, Mike DeBonis, Tom Hamburger and Isaac Stanley-Becker contributed to this report.

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