The White House denied it's directing the supplemental FBI investigation into sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh amid Democratic concerns to the contrary, Bloomberg News reported.
President Donald Trump released a statement Friday evening approving the FBI investigation at the request of Senate Republicans, although he noted the probe "must be limited in scope and completed in less than one week.”
Supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifies on Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (MICHAEL REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images)
But an individual familiar with the proceedings said the White House will dictate the manner in which the FBI investigation is limited, Bloomberg News said, adding that apparently means not looking into sexual misconduct claims from Julie Swetnick, who reportedly has a long history of legal disputes and faced sexual misconduct allegations against her.
The individual also said the FBI initially was ordered to interview only four people, the outlet reported: Mark Judge and PJ Smyth (Kavanaugh’s high school friends), Leland Keyser (a high school friend of Christine Blasey Ford, the first woman to come forward with sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh), and Deborah Ramirez, who claimed Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a Yale University party.
The FBI has flexibility in regard to the subjects it may ask about, including Kavanaugh’s alcohol use, the unnamed individual told Bloomberg News. After the White House receives the bureau's findings, it will determine if the FBI should speak further to the four subjects, the outlet said, adding that it's unclear if the FBI would have to get the White House's approval to interview others.
Republican Sens. Jeff Flake (Arizona), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), and Susan Collins (Maine) on Friday sided with Democrats and sought the supplemental FBI investigation. At least two of them must approve Kavanaugh in a vote by the Senate, which the GOP controls 51-49.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) — who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee and faces a possible investigation over her office’s handling of Ford's allegation letter — on Sunday asked the White House and the FBI to reveal specifics about what the bureau has been asked to cover in its supplemental probe, the outlet added.
Ranking member U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) leaves after the Senate Judiciary Committee voted on Friday to approve, along party lines, the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court at Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) told CNN she’s concerned the White House will micromanage the investigation, Bloomberg News said, and noted on CBS’s “Face the Nation" that questions about Kavanaugh’s drinking are relevant and shouldn't be off limits, which some reports have indicated.
Trump 'respects the independence of the FBI'
But senior Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway on Sunday denied the White House is controlling the FBI investigation, the outlet added, and told CNN’s “State of the Union" that "the president very much respects the independence of the FBI.”
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders echoed Conway's assessment on “Fox News Sunday," Bloomberg News noted.
What about the drinking allegations?
Charles Ludington, a former Yale classmate of Kavanaugh's, came forward Sunday in a statement saying he's "deeply troubled by what has been a blatant mischaracterization by Brett himself of his drinking at Yale. When Brett got drunk, he was often belligerent and aggressive," the outlet reported.
Ludington added that Kavanaugh once threw a beer into a man’s face and started a fight, Bloomberg News said.
“In denying the possibility that he ever blacked out from drinking, and in downplaying the degree and frequency of his drinking, Brett has not told the truth,” Ludington, an associate professor of history at North Carolina State University, also said, the outlet reported.