FBI director: Kavanaugh background probe ‘limited in scope’
FBI Director Chris Wray told senators Wednesday that the FBI’s investigation into Christine Blasey Ford’s sexual assault allegation against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was “limited in scope” and thus “consistent with the standard process.”
Ford accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at a house party when the two were in high school. Both Ford and Kavanaugh testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee last month, prompting the weeklong FBI investigation and hundreds to protest on Capitol Hill. The Senate reviewed the FBI’s findings after they were sent it last Thursday and confirmed Kavanaugh by a 50-48 vote Saturday afternoon. Kavanaugh has denied all allegations against him.
During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday, California Democrat Sen. Kamala Harris asked Wray if the FBI was given full discretion over the investigation or whether it was limited by directions from the White House.
“Unlike most investigations like the sort that you and I and (Democratic Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama) have all been familiar with — traditional criminal investigations, national security investigations — a background investigation is very different,” Wray replied. “Our only authority is as requested by the adjudicating agency — in this case is the White House.”
He added, “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 quite a long ways.”
Wray sidestepped Harris’ question as to whether or not he knew who determined Ford, Kavanaugh or the over 40 possible witnesses would not be interviewed.
“Again, I would say, what I said at the beginning, which is as is standard, the investigation was very specific in scope, limited in scope and that is the usual process,” Wray replied. “My folks have assured me that the usual process was followed.”
CNN reported last week that several of Kavanaugh’s classmates from Yale trying to share information they found relevant to the investigation struggled to connect with the FBI. Ford’s lawyers also sent a letter to Wray asking why investigators had not reached out to the dozen witnesses her legal team provided.
Wray said that he was unable to speak to Harris’ questions on whether the FBI received any written communications, whether such communications could be given to the committee, and who specifically, including White House Counsel Don McGahn, gave those directives.
“The communication between the FBI and the White House for nominations, including judicial nominations, is through the FBI’s security division,which has background investigation specialists, and the White House Office of security,” he said. “Communication occurred between White House office of security and FBI security division.”
Wray also told senators Wednesday that the credibility of the “FBI is rock solid” and that he takes it “very seriously,” in response to Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson’s question asking if he is concerned about the bureau’s credibility. Wray acknowledged that the bureau has dealt with disciplinary actions but said he could not discuss them at the open hearing.
Additionally, Wray wouldn’t commit to giving any of the documents requested by Johnson to the committee, including a memo on a meeting between Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and FBI lawyer Lisa Page, as well as any notes from the bureau’s meetings with Justice Department official Bruce Ohr.