Trump says there are no limits to FBI's Kavanaugh investigation... and he isn't telling the truth

Trump said that the FBI will have "free rein" in their Kavanaugh investigation, but this isn't true

By Matthew Rozsa

Published September 30, 2018 12:20PM (EDT)

Brett Kavanaugh; Christine Blasey Ford (AP/Michale Reynolds)
Brett Kavanaugh; Christine Blasey Ford (AP/Michale Reynolds)

President Donald Trump may claim that the FBI has been given "free rein" to investigate the sexual misconduct accusations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, but the facts suggest that that probe has in fact been significantly curtailed.

In response to an NBC News report saying that Trump's White House had limited the scope of the FBI's investigation into Kavanaugh's background, Trump tweeted that "I want them to interview whoever they deem appropriate, at their discretion." Later the president told reporters that the FBI has been given "free rein" in its investigation, adding that "they’re going to do whatever they have to do. 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."

Yet this claim does not tell the full story. Although four witnesses are scheduled to be questioned in upcoming days about various details of the sexual assault accusations made against Kavanaugh, former classmates who have made observations which contradict Kavanaugh's testimony regarding his past drinking and partying were left off of the list, according to The New York Times. Similarly, because the FBI investigation will last for no longer than a single week, it will in effect be a limited background check rather than a full-fledged investigation.

It is also noteworthy that Senate Democrats were kept out of the discussions as to who would be questioned, while Senate Republicans drafted the witness list that the FBI could follow, with that list being shared with the Trump White House by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

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The Times further reported on the identities of the people who are going to be interviewed by the FBI:

The four witnesses were Mr. Judge; Leland Keyser, a high school friend of Dr. Blasey’s whom she said attended the party but was not told of the assault; P.J. Smyth, another party guest; and Ms. Ramirez, the Yale accuser.

Mark Judge is a friend of Kavanaugh's who he has known since the alleged high school incident and who Christine Blasey Ford claims had been in the room when Kavanaugh held her down and attempted to rape her. P. J. Smyth is another party guest who Ford claims was present in the house when the alleged events transpired. Deborah Ramirez is a former Yale undergraduate who claims that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a party. And Leland Keyser is a high school friend of Ford's who Kavanaugh claimed had refuted Ford's story, even though this is not precisely accurate.

"Ms. Keyser does not refute Dr. Ford's account, and she has already told the press that she believes Dr. Ford's account," Keyser's attorney, Howard Walsh, wrote in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday, according to CNN. "However, the simple and unchangeable truth is that she is unable to corroborate it because she has no recollection of the incident in question."

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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Brett Kavanaugh Christine Blasey Ford Deborah Ramirez Donald Trump Julie Swetnick Mitch Mcconnell