The White House has instructed the FBI to expand its investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, according to the New York Times, citing two people briefed on the matter. The new directive comes on the heels of a contentious Monday afternoon Rose Garden press conference held to discuss the new trade deal with Canada and Mexico.
— TicToc by Bloomberg (@tictoc) October 1, 2018
Earlier in the presser, Trump became visibly annoyed at questions from CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, telling her “Don’t do that” when she began with Kavanaugh questions.
Trump to CNN’s Kaitlan Collins when she asked about Brett Kavanaugh: “Don’t do that” pic.twitter.com/D49Q4eZuum
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) October 1, 2018
Trump came under fire over the weekend for limiting the scope of the investigation to the first two Kavanaugh accusers, while not pursuing a third – Julie Swetnick, who accused Kavanaugh of running a date-rape gang-bang scheme at 10 high school parties in which boys were “lined up” outside of rooms to rape inebriated women.
Less than 24 hours after her attorney, Michael Avenatti, revealed Swetnick’s salacious claim, Politico reported that her ex-boyfriend, Richard Vinneccy – a registered Democrat, took out a restraining order against her, and says he has evidence that she’s lying.
“Right after I broke up with her, she was threatening my family, threatening my wife and threatening to do harm to my baby at that time,” Vinneccy said in a telephone interview with POLITICO. “I know a lot about her.” –Politico
“I have a lot of facts, evidence, that what she’s saying is not true at all,” he said. “I would rather speak to my attorney first before saying more.”
Trump said during Monday’s press conference “It wouldn’t bother me at all” if Swetnick were interviewed by the FBI, adding “Now I don’t know all three of the accusers. Certainly I imagine they’re going to interview two. The third one I don’t know much about.”
The President ordered the one-week FBI investigation on Friday after lame-duck GOP Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona cast the Senate floor vote into disarray by refusing to vote “yes” on Kavanaugh unless the more than three-decade-old claims were investigated.
The White House, however, limited the inquisition to just four individuals; Mark Judge, P.J. Smyth and Leland Keyser – high school friends of Kavanaugh’s that accuser Christine Blasey Ford says were at a party where she was groped – and who have all denied any knowledge of the incident. The fourth person to be questioned is Deborah Ramirez, another accuser who says Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a Yale party at which she admits she was extremely inebriated.
In interviews, several former senior F.B.I. officials said that they could think of no previous instance when the White House restricted the bureau’s ability to interview potential witnesses during a background check. Chuck Rosenberg, who served as chief of staff under James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, said background investigations were frequently reopened, but that the bureau decides how to pursue new allegations. –NYT
“The White House normally tells the F.B.I. what issue to examine, but would not tell the F.B.I. how to examine it, or with whom they should speak,” said Rosenberg. “It’s highly unusual — in fact, as far I know, uniquely so — for the F.B.I. to be directed to speak only to a limited number of designated people.”
In his Monday comments, Trump said that he would reconsider Kavanaugh’s nomination if the FBI turned up any evidence that warranted it.
“Certainly if they find something I’m going to take that into consideration,” said Trump, adding “Absolutely. I have a very open mind. The person that takes that position is going to be there a long time.“
In a five-page assessment, Rachel Mitchell – the veteran sex crimes prosecutor used by the Senate Judiciary Committee to question Kavanaugh and Ford, she notes: that a “‘he said, she said’ case is incredibly difficult to prove. But this case is even weaker than that.”
Michell writes: “I do not think that a reasonable prosecutor would bring this case based on the evidence before the Committee. Nor do I believe that this evidence is sufficient to satisfy the preponderance-of-the-evidence standard.”
We assume the same can be said for Kavanaugh’s other accusers, however we’ll just have to wait to see what the FBI concludes – along with what new claims will be brought in the interim, as we seem to get a new one every couple of days.