The FBI has not been permitted to investigate the claims of Julie Swetnick, a White House official confirmed to NBC News.
WASHINGTON — The White House is limiting the scope of the FBI’s investigation into the sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, multiple people briefed on the matter told NBC News.
While the FBI will examine the allegations of Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez, the bureau has not been permitted to investigate the claims of Julie Swetnick, who has accused Kavanaugh of engaging in sexual misconduct at parties while he was a student at Georgetown Preparatory School in the 1980s, those people familiar with the investigation told NBC News. A White House official confirmed that Swetnick’s claims will not be pursued as part of the reopened background investigation into Kavanaugh.
Ford said in Senate testimony Thursday that she was “100 percent” certain that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were both in high school. Ramirez alleged that he exposed himself to her when there were students at Yale. Kavanaugh has staunchly denied allegations from Ford, Ramirez and Swetnick.
Instead of investigating Swetnick’s claims, the White House counsel’s office has given the FBI a list of witnesses they are permitted to interview, according to several people who discussed the parameters on the condition of anonymity. They characterized the White House instructions as a significant constraint on the FBI investigation and caution that such a limited scope, while not unusual in normal circumstances, may make it difficult to pursue additional leads in a case in which a Supreme Court nominee has been accused of sexual assault.
The limited scope seems to be at odds with what some members of the Senate judiciary seemed to expect when they agreed to give the FBI as much as a week to investigate allegations against Kavanaugh, a federal judge who grew up in the Washington DC area and attended an elite all-boys high school before going on to Yale.
President Donald Trump said on Saturday that the FBI has “free reign” in the investigation. “They’re going to do whatever they have to do,” he said. “Whatever it is they do, they’ll be doing — things that we never even thought of. And hopefully at the conclusion everything will be fine.”
The president also said he thinks Flake’s role in delaying the vote is fine. “Actually this could be a blessing in disguise,” Trump continued. “Because having the FBI go out, do a thorough investigation, whether its three days or seven days, I think it’s going to be less than a week. But having them do a thorough investigation, I actually think will be a blessing in disguise. It’ll be a good thing.”
“I don’t need a backup plan,” Trump said, adding that he thinks Kavanaugh is “going to be fine.”
Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes Saturday that he supports the week-long scope of the investigation.
Sen. Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona, who led an 11th hour move in the Senate committee for an FBI inquiry, said he thought the bureau would decide how to carry it out. His Democratic colleague Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island said he expected the FBI probe to include “adequate staffing,” support from the committee for “rapid immunity and subpoena decisions as needed, plus the ability to investigate claims of a “penchant for drunkenness and inappropriate treatment of women, particularly where specifically related to incidents under investigation.”