As usual, the White House has been sending out mixed messages. On one hand, Donald Trump expansively told a crowd of reporters that the FBI could follow the investigation into his Supreme Court nominee anywhere it led — within reason. Those with ties to the FBI claimed the opposite was true.
Trump held a Rose Garden press conference, after completing his new not-NAFTA trade deal with Canada and Mexico. When questions turned to his nominee for Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, POTUS finally settled down and responded, according to The New York Times:
‘The F.B.I. should interview anybody that they want within reason, but you have to say within reason. But they should also be guided, and I’m being guided, by what the senators are looking for.’
The president said he told his White House Counsel Donald McGahn to let the FBI have an open investigation. However, he added that the investigation should include the Senate Republicans’ requests. That included Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) wishes, too. Packing the SCOTUS with conservative justices has been a lifelong dream of his.
The president continued:
‘I want them to do a very comprehensive investigation, whatever that means, according to the senators and the Republicans and the Republican majority. I want them to do that. I want it to be comprehensive. I think it’s actually a good thing for Judge Kavanaugh.’
When reporters asked whether the FBI should also question the nominee, he said:
‘I think so. I think it’s fine if they do. That’s up to them.’
There was a third woman who came forward, Julie Swetnick. Attorney Michael Avenatti has been representing her, and she has a dreadful claim against Kavanaugh. As such, Republicans decided that she was not a credible witness. However, Trump said he would not mind if the FBI investigated her claim:
‘It wouldn’t bother me at all. 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. (She had) very little credibility, (but) if there is any credibility, interview the third one.’
Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who is retiring at the end of his term, was the one Republican in the Senate Judiciary Committee to work with the Democrats. He has worried that the FBI not exclude vital elements of the investigation and have been working to make certain that does not happen.
When he appeared at a Boston event, Flake said:
‘It does no good to have an investigation that gives us more cover, for example. We actually have find out what we can find out.’
It has not been unusual to reopen FBI investigations, so that agents can interview additional witnesses for a background check. Former chief of staff under the previous FBI director James Comey, Chuck Rosenberg said:
‘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. 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.’
Featured image is a screenshot via YouTube.