UPDATE: Ohio lawmakers, candidates react to Brett Kavanaugh confirmation

Just hours before the Senate confirmed Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, Sen. Sherrod Brown charged Senate Republicans and the White House “straightjacketed the FBI” by limiting its investigation into whether Kavanaugh sexually assaulted a woman in 1982 when they both were teenagers.

In a floor speech Saturday, Brown sharply criticized what he argued were limits imposed on the FBI on who they could interview to determine if witnesses could corroborate accusations by Christine Blasey Ford that Kavanaugh and another teenage friend assaulted her at a private home in Maryland.

MORE COVERAGE: Live updates: Brett Kavanaugh confirmation reaction

Brown was among 48 senators who voted against Kavanaugh while Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, joined 49 other senators in supporting Kavanaugh, a longtime friend of Portman’s.

Brown said the FBI did not interview Ford or Kavanaugh, adding Ford’s attorneys said the FBI did not talk to at least a dozen witnesses that Ford asked them to interview.

“It’s wrong that political influence and artificial deadlines . . . prevented the FBI from performing the complete and thorough investigation the American people deserve,” Brown said, adding he blamed the White House, not the FBI.

The FBI contacted 10 people and interviewed nine of them, including three people Ford said were at the party. According to many Republican senators, none of those interviewed corroborated her accusation.

But Brown said the reason the investigation did not corroborate Ford’s charges is “because of what political leadership” in the White House and Senate did “to prevent the FBI from doing its job. That’s what that was a scam.”

In addition, Brown said Kavanaugh’s “rulings and positions on the rights of Ohio workers and women and consumers would take us in exactly the wrong direction. His nomination comes when the stakes for working Ohioans couldn’t be higher.”

Portman said in a statement “it’s going to take time for the Senate and the country to heal from this ugly ordeal.”

“But for now, let me make a modest suggestion,” Portman said. “Let’s take a step back from the brink and lower the rhetoric. Let’s treat disagreements like disagreements, not as proof that our opponents are bad people. Let’s hold up quiet cooperation, as we saw this week with the opioid legislation instead of loud confrontation.”

Senate Republican candidate Jim Renacci predicted Kavanaugh "will make an excellent" justice.

Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Niles, said Kavanaugh's confirmation "will do lasting damage to the integrity" of the Supreme Court.

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