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Whitehouse says he’s keeping his promise to Christine Blasey Ford

R.I. senator says an FBI tip line set up in 2018 for information about SC Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s background was “not for real.”

Christine Blasey Ford testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in 2018.Saul Loeb/Associated Press

This article originally appeared in the Rhode Map newsletter. If you would like to get the newsletter as a convenient e-mail Monday through Friday, just sign up here.


Happy Friday and welcome to Rhode Map, your daily guide to everything happening in the Ocean State. I’m Ed Fitzpatrick and while my sons swear by video games like Valorant, I doubt they’re having any more fun than I had at Lincoln Mall’s Dream Machine. Follow me on Twitter @FitzProv or send tips to

ICYMI: Rhode Island was up to 153,355 confirmed coronavirus cases on Thursday, after adding 88 new cases. The overall daily test-positive rate was 1.8 percent. The state announced one new death, bringing the total to 2,739. There were 17 people in the hospital, and 651,620 residents were fully vaccinated. Check our dashboard for more data.


US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse made a promise to Christine Blasey Ford.

During the 2018 confirmation hearing for US Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, the Rhode Island Democrat told Ford that she’d been denied a thorough investigation of her sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh, and that he’d do “whatever’s in my power to make sure your claims get a full and proper investigation.”

So Whitehouse is still pursuing the matter. And now, he says, new details from the FBI confirm his suspicion that a tip line set up for information about Kavanaugh’s background was “not for real.”

In a June 30 letter to Whitehouse and Delaware Democrat Chris Coons, an FBI assistant director said the agency received more than 4,500 tips, “including phone calls and electronic submissions,” and sent “all relevant tips” to the White House counsel’s office, whose handling of them remains unclear.

”This wasn’t a tip line — this was a tip dump,” Whitehouse told the Globe on Thursday. “It was a garbage chute from the tip line to the White House counsel’s office, where they had no interest in conducting an investigation.”


Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said, “For those of us in the Senate, it raises questions about the trustworthiness of FBI background investigations for nominees. If this is going to turn into a situation where the FBI can tank a background investigation by sending derogatory information to the White House and Congress never finds out, that is a poor setup for Senate trust.”

Whitehouse said the issue is coming up nearly three years after Kavanaugh’s confirmation because that’s how long it took for the FBI to respond to his questions. “It’s not my fault — it’s their fault,” he said. “This should have come out immediately.”

In the letter, the FBI said, “Justice Kavanaugh’s nomination was the first time that the FBI set up a tip line for a nominee undergoing Senate confirmation.” The agency said it was serving as an “investigative service provider” for the White House counsel’s office and “not as a criminal investigative entity,” so “procedures used to investigate criminal matters did not apply.”

The FBI said it ended up interviewing 10 people over six days “as part of several limited inquiries.” The agency did not interview Ford or Kavanaugh.

In a letter sent Thursday, Whitehouse and Coons told FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, “The admissions in your letter corroborate and explain numerous credible accounts by individuals and firms that they had contacted the FBI with information ‘highly relevant to . . . allegations’ of sexual misconduct by Justice Kavanaugh, only to be ignored.”


”If the FBI was not authorized to or did not follow up on any of the tips that it received from the tip line,” the senators wrote, “it is difficult to understand the point of having a tip line at all.”


⚓ In an interview with Alexa Gagosz, the leaders of Rhode Island’s two predominant hospital systems — Lifespan Corporation chief executive Dr. Timothy J. Babineau and Care New England chief executive Dr. James E. Fanale — say they are about two months away from completing their merger application. Read more.

Brian Amaral reports that Providence Mayor Jorge O. Elorza and Public Safety Commissioner Steven M. Paré are troubled by the force police used in arresting three teens after a car chase around the city earlier this month. Read more.

⚓ The city of Providence picked two local organizations — The Providence Center and Family Service of Rhode Island — to develop a new behavioral crisis response program, a way to divert certain police calls to professionals like social workers or clinicians instead. Read more.

⚓ Rhode Island has a new cannabis and hemp testing and analytics laboratory: PureVita Labs, a 6,800-square-foot facility in West Warwick. Read more.

⚓ If you want to see the tension over beach access in Rhode Island, even in a sleepy and wealthy suburban community like Barrington, you can find it in the span of just a few feet. Read more.


Brown University has acquired the River House in Providence for $75 million, providing the capacity to house 270 graduate students in a mix of 174 studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments. Read more.

⚓ Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos reflects on her first 100 days in office. Read more.

⚓ US Representative James R. Langevin joined President Biden as he signed a bill into law to sustain the victims of crime fund. Read more.

Three Rhode Islanders talk about what it means to identify as both Asian American Pacific Islander and Jewish. Read more.

⚓ Rhode Map readers have sent another round of Happy Birthday wishes to: Chris Santilli, Laureen Grebien, Jim Kane (57), Jesse Crichton (40), John McLacken (71), Jess Barrett (39), Sue Pegden, Maryann Bettencourt Brown, Jeffrey Padwa, Marcela Betancur, Edward Maggiacomo (85), and Abby Floyd-Schwartz (10).


Summer camp: Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah, this sounds worse than Camp Granada ... Zoe Greenberg writes about a rustic New Hampshire camp that abruptly shut down, informing parents who had shelled out $3,400 for two weeks that they needed to pick up their children the next morning. Read more.

Politics: Do you have a susceptibility to authoritarianism that deeply influences your viewpoint and possibly your voting behavior? This is your chance to find out. Read more.


Health: Jonathan Saltzman reports that Biogen is vigorously defending its actions that led to the approval of its controversial new Alzheimer’s drug, saying negative media coverage was misleading patients who might benefit from the medicine. Read more.

Sports: Tom Brady acknowledged that his Week 4 return to Gillette Stadium will likely be his final trip to Foxborough before the end of his career. Read more.


Each day, Rhode Map offers a cheat sheet breaking down what’s happening in Rhode Island. Have an idea? E-mail us at

⚓ US Senator Jack Reed will join Providence Community Health Centers CEO Merrill Thomas and other leaders at 1 p.m. at the health center at 335 Prairie Ave. in Providence to “discuss the facts about the COVID-19 vaccine, combat the spread of vaccine misinformation, and help prevent avoidable hospitalizations and deaths.”

⚓ The City of Central Falls will host a Housing Resource Fair from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday at Veterans Memorial Park for city residents and landlords to be connected to housing resources and programs. Mayor Maria Rivera said the event is timely because a federal eviction ban will lift July 31 and families throughout the city face housing challenges.

⚓ This year’s Newport Folk Festival consists of two three-day events, running from Friday through Sunday, and then Monday through Wednesday. Check out the lineup.

⚓ Do you ❤ Rhode Map? Your subscription is what makes it possible. We’ve got a great offer here.

Thanks for reading. Send comments and suggestions to, or follow me on Twitter @FitzProv. Dan McGowan will be back on Monday.

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Edward Fitzpatrick can be reached at Follow him @FitzProv.