The White House has added multiple constraints to the FBI’s background investigation into accusations of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, NBC News reported Saturday, citing multiple unnamed people briefed on the matter.
Per NBC news, the allegations of Julie Swetnick, who accused Kavanaugh and his high school friend Mark Judge of a range of disturbing nonconsensual sexual acts, are off-limits. In NBC News’ words, the FBI “has not been permitted” to look into Swetnick’s claims.
White House Counsel Don McGahn (pictured above), the Trump administration’s point person for Kavanaugh’s nomination, has also given the FBI a list of permitted witnesses to interview, NBC News reported. Two unnamed sources briefed on the matter told NBC News it was unclear whether the FBI would be able to contact additional individuals who may be able to corroborate existing interviewees’ claims, if they are not covered by the White House’s rules.
Unnamed people who “discussed the parameters” of the FBI’s background investigation told NBC News, in the network’s words, that the White House rules constituted “a significant constraint on the FBI investigation” and said they “may make it difficult to pursue additional leads.”
President Donald Trump himself told NBC News that FBI investigators have “free reign” in their background check. And White House spokesperson Raj Shah, who’s led the communications effort surrounding Kavanaugh’s nomination, told NBC News that “the scope and duration has been set by the Senate. The White House is letting the FBI agents do what they are trained to do.”
But NBC News’ reporting contradicts those statements.
Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans said Friday that they would request the FBI’s probe be “limited to current credible allegations against the nominee and must be completed no later than one week from today.” Ultimately, President Donald Trump agreed to instruct the FBI to probe the allegations.
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), the senator who called for a one-week pause in Kavanaugh’s confirmation to allow the FBI time to probe the allegations against him, said Friday that “they’ll have to decide — the FBI you know, how far that goes,” NBC News noted.
Among other White House rules for the FBI’s renewed background check, per NBC News: One unnamed “source was told” that the bureau’s investigators cannot ask a local supermarket for its employment records in order to confirm Judge’s having worked there.
Christine Blasey Ford has said that Judge was a witness to Kavanaugh’s alleged sexual assault of her. Blasey Ford also told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday that she saw Judge working at the a local Safeway six to eight weeks after the alleged assault.
And two unnamed sources “familiar with the investigation” told NBC News that investigators will not be able to probe the discrepancies between Kavanaugh’s claims about his drinking in college and those of his classmates. Kavanugh’s Yale University classmate Liz Swisher, for example, has characterized Kavanaugh’s claims about his drinking as lies.