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 KavanaughTrump pays respects to late Justice Stevens at Supreme Court McConnell challenger faces tougher path after rocky launch Lindsey Graham's Faustian bargain MORE was limited in scope, following precedent for similar investigations.

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisPoll: Biden leads 2020 Democratic field by 15 points, followed by Sanders and Warren Democrats, advocacy groups urge Pompeo to abolish new 'unalienable rights' commission Biden announces plan to counteract mass incarceration 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 CollinsPoll: McConnell is most unpopular senator Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers struggle to understand Facebook's Libra project | EU hits Amazon with antitrust probe | New cybersecurity concerns over census | Robocall, election security bills head to House floor | Privacy questions over FaceApp Trump angry more Republicans haven't defended his tweets: report MORE (R-Maine), Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeFlake urges Republicans to condemn 'vile and offensive' Trump tweets Flake responds to Trump, Jimmy Carter barbs: 'We need to stop trying to disqualify each other' Jeff Flake responds to Trump's 'greener pastures' dig on former GOP lawmakers MORE (R-Ariz.) and Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinPoll: McConnell is most unpopular senator Dems open to killing filibuster in next Congress Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand MORE (D-W.Va.) voted for Kavanaugh after viewing the report.