Trump, White House Offer Partial Denials Of Reports Of Limiting Kavanaugh Probe

September 30, 2018 9:43 a.m.

President Donald Trump and a senior White House staffer, Kellyanne Conway, offered limited denials Saturday and Sunday to reports that the White House has placed limits on the FBI’s background investigation of allegations of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Speaking to CNN’s Jake Tapper Sunday, Conway said the President “respects the independence of the FBI, and feels, as he said last night, that they should be looking at anything they think is credible within this limited scope.”

The definition of “limited scope,” Conway said when pressed, would be “up to the FBI.”

Did White House Counsel Don McGahn say “you can interview these witnesses but don’t interview these witnesses?” Tapper asked.

“I don’t think Don McGahn would do that, but I have not talked to him about it,” Conway responded, not answering the key assertion of recent reports from NBC News and The New York Times.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders couldn’t a definitive answer on the subject Sunday, telling Fox News’ Chris Wallace only that the White House wasn’t “micromanaging” the process, and that “we’re letting the Senate continue to dictate what the terms look like.”

Trump offered a more firm denial of NBC News’ breaking report Saturday, but, as the Times noted, “the White House can order investigators to further examine the allegations if their findings from the four witness [Mark Judge, Leland Ingham Keyser, P.J. Smyth and Deborah Ramirez] interviews open new avenues of inquiry, and Mr. Trump seemed to stress that part of the plan in a tweet late on Saturday”:

NBC News, after Trump’s tweet, reported that the previously-outlined, White House-imposed limitations on the FBI background check remained in place.

This post has been updated.

Correction: This post initially referred to the current Supreme Court nominee as Neil Gorsuch, who was confirmed as a Supreme Court justice in April of last year, rather than the actual current nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. TPM regrets the error.

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