Under grilling by Democratic U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris today, FBI director Christopher Wray refused to say why his agency failed to interview numerous key players in its supplemental background check of Brett Kavanaugh, or if it investigated allegations that Kavanaugh lied to Congress.
Wray admitted that the investigation it was "limited in scope" but insisted that was routine procedure. The background check was reopened before the Senate voted on Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court, in light of sexual assault accusations brought by professor Christine Blasey Ford and other women. Blasey Ford testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about her experience, and Kavanaugh had a chance to respond, but there have been allegations that he mischaracterized his drinking habits and other matters in his testimony.
Democrats have been highly critical of the supplemental investigation, saying it was far too limited to give a thorough picture of Kavanaugh's deeds and character. Harris had said in a Senate floor speech last week that the probe was "not a search for the truth. This was not an investigation. This was an abdication of responsibility and duty." The Senate did vote Saturday to confirm Kavanaugh, by a narrow margin of 50-48, with most Democrats voting against him and most Republicans for him.
Wray appeared today before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Harris, noting that she's the only member of that committee who's also on the Senate Judiciary Committee, pressed him on the Kavanaugh investigation.
The directive for the supplemental investigation came from the White House, as is routine, and Wray said it was limited in scope, "consistent with the standard process for such investigations going back quite a long ways." Harris asked him if any direction came from White House counsel Don McGahn, and he said he could not answer that, saying only that the communications were between the White House Office of Security and the FBI's security division.
Then Harris zeroed in. "Do you know who determined that the FBI would not interview Judge Kavanaugh or Dr. Ford or the list of 40-plus witnesses?" she asked. Wray was willing to say only that the investigation was very specific in scope, and that was business as usual.
She followed up by asking, "And did the FBI look into allegations as to whether Judge Kavanaugh lied to Congress during his testimony?" Wray answered, "That's not something I could discuss here." That concluded Harris's questioning.
Several others have raised concerns about the probe. Ford's lawyers "wrote to Wray directly with their concerns, calling it 'inconceivable' that the FBI could conclude its investigation without interviewing either her or Kavanaugh," The Washington Post reports. Republican senators, however, have called the investigation satisfactory.