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FBI chief: 'Usual process was followed' for Kavanaugh background investigation

FBI Director Christopher Wray said Wednesday that the bureau's background investigation into Supreme Court Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughFive takeaways from the first North Dakota Senate debate Trump says midterms about ‘Kavanaugh, the caravan, law and order and common sense' Live coverage: Heitkamp faces Cramer in high-stakes North Dakota debate MORE was limited in scope, following precedent for similar investigations.

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisOn The Money: Mnuchin pulls out of Saudi summit | Consumer bureau to probe controversial blog posts on race | Harris proposes new middle-class tax credit Booker holds 'Get Out the Vote' event in South Carolina as presidential speculation builds Harris rolls out bill to create new middle class tax credit MORE (D-Calif.) asked Wray during a Senate hearing whether the FBI was given full discretion "to investigate whatever your agency thought was appropriate to figure out what happened."

“Our investigation here, our supplemental update to the previous background investigation, was limited in scope and that is consistent with the standard process for such investigations going back quite a long ways,” Wray said.

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The FBI head declined to say who at the bureau had made the decision to not interview Kavanaugh, his accuser Christine Blasey Ford or other potential witnesses as part of the investigation.

He also declined to say whether the FBI looked into allegations that Kavanaugh had lied during his testimony before Congress.

“As was standard, the investigation was very specific in scope and limited in scope and that is the usual process and that my folks have assured me that the usual process was followed,” Wray said.

When asked if White House counsel Don McGahn had directly communicated with anyone in the FBI about the background investigation, Wray said he could not “speak to what anybody throughout the organization might have received instructions on.”

He said that, generally, communications about nominations take place between the White House’s security office and the FBI’s security division. 

Kavanaugh, who was sworn in as a member of the Supreme Court over the weekend, faced public allegations of sexual misconduct from three women. He has denied all of the allegations.

Both he and Ford testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee late last month about her allegation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her, and the White House directed that a supplemental investigation into Kavanaugh's background be opened amid pressure from Democrats.

The confidential report was made available to senators last week. While Republicans said the report was thorough, some Democrats claimed the FBI did not contact an adequate number of witnesses about the sexual assault allegations.

Key swing votes Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns Susan Collins and the mob mentality Graham: I hope Dems 'get their ass kicked' for conduct around Kavanaugh MORE (R-Maine), Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeMnuchin pulls out of Saudi conference The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns On The Money: Treasury official charged with leaking info on ex-Trump advisers | Trump to seek 5 percent budget cut from Cabinet members | Mnuchin to decide by Thursday on attending Saudi conference MORE (R-Ariz.) and Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinElection Countdown: Florida Senate fight resumes after hurricane | Cruz softens ObamaCare attacks | GOP worries Trump will lose suburban women | Latest Senate polls | Rep. Dave Brat gets Trump's 'total endorsement' | Dem candidates raise record B Poll: Dems lead in Indiana, West Virginia Senate races, tied in Nevada McConnell defends Trump-backed lawsuit against ObamaCare MORE (D-W.Va.) voted for Kavanaugh after viewing the report.