As Trump Broadens Scope of Kavanaugh Probe, Calls for FBI to Follow Leads That Have Been Ignored

Protests across the country resulted in the Senate calling for an FBI investigation into sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh--but until Monday the probe was expected to be very limited in scope. (Photo: @EmilyAReports/Twitter)

As Trump Broadens Scope of Kavanaugh Probe, Calls for FBI to Follow Leads That Have Been Ignored

The president said Monday that investigators "should do what they have to do to get to the answer"—a shift from the White House's position just days ago

Supporters of the women who have accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault hoped on Monday that President Donald Trump's latest directive regarding an FBI probe into the allegations would result in a more effective investigation than had been expected earlier, following a press conference in which the president said the FBI should interview whomever it deemed necessary.

Trump's comment opened up the possibility that leads that have thus far been ignored by authorities would now be followed.

Senate Democrats on Monday sent White House counsel Don McGahn and the FBI a list of two dozen people who they believe investigators should speak with, including Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, Kavanaugh's accuser; the examiner who gave her a polygraph; friends of Ford; and others.

Asking investigators to thoroughly examine the allegations of all three women who have accused Kavanaugh, the lawmakers demanded that the FBI "perform all logical steps related to these allegations, including interviewing other individuals who might have relevant information."

In his press conference, Trump told reporters that all three of the accusers--Ford, Deborah Ramirez, and Julie Swetnick--could be interviewed by the FBI, as well as Kavanaugh himself.

"The FBI should do what they have to do to get to the answer," the president said.

Over the weekend, the White House had sent conflicting messages regarding how much freedom the FBI would be given to examine the allegations of Ford, Ramirez, and Swetnick.

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders shared a statement from Trump on Friday that explicitly called for a probe that would be "limited in scope and completed in less than one week," only to have Trump say a day later that he wanted the FBI "to interview whoever they deem appropriate, at their discretion."

The president's statement on Monday, and a call from White House General Counsel Don McGahn to the FBI, made the latter directive official.

The change in direction came after numerous reports indicated the FBI was declining to talk to witnesses who could corroborate the women's claims, after being given a list of only four people that it could interview--Mark Judge, who Ford says was in the room during her alleged assault; Leland Keyser and P.J. Smyth, who were present at the party where it took place; and Deborah Ramirez, who has alleged a separate assault in college.

Chad Ludington, a classmate of Kavanaugh's at Yale University, where his alleged assault on Ramirez reportedly took place, released a statement to the press Sunday about the judge's drinking habits as a student.

"In recent days I have become deeply troubled by what has been a blatant mischaracterization by Brett himself of his drinking at Yale," Ludington said. "I have direct and repeated knowledge about his drinking and his disposition while drunk. And I do believe that Brett's actions as a 53-year-old federal judge matter. If he lied about his past actions on national television, and more especially while speaking under oath in front of the United States Senate, I believe those lies should have consequences."

After the scope of the investigation was broadened, Ludington was scheduled to talk to the FBI on Monday.

Another anonymous classmate offered to corroborate Ramirez's story over the weekend, but said Monday that the FBI was not responding to calls about the matter.

Just after Trump's press conference, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) appeared on the Senate floor to denounce the FBI investigation as a "character assassination" and preemptively accuse Democrats of deeming the probe insufficient once it is completed at the end of the week.

Democrats, McConnell said, "are committed to delaying, obstructing, and resisting this nominee with everything they've got. They just want to delay this matter until after the election."

McConnell offered a visual of his position on whether a judge who is up for a lifetime appointment in one of the most powerful positions in U.S. government should be subjected to an FBI investigation in light of numerous assault allegations, when he ignored two women who attempted to speak to him in Washington, D.C. on Monday.

"How many stories of sexual violence do you need to hear in order to believe women?" asked one of the women.

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