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White House Lifts Constraints on Whom FBI Can Interview about Kavanaugh

(Jim Bourg/Reuters)

The White House has ordered the FBI to interview anyone believed to have information relevant to the allegations of sexual assault against Brett Kavanaugh after initially limiting the scope of the investigation, the New York Times reported on Monday.

The new directive comes as Senate Democrats have lambasted their Republican colleagues and the White House for initially instructing investigators to speak solely with four potential witnesses: Kavanaugh’s high-school friends Mark Judge and P. J. Smyth, Christine Blasey Ford’s friend Leland Keyser, and Deborah Ramirez, who claims Kavanaugh exposed himself to her during a dorm-room party when they were freshmen at Yale.

At a press conference in the White House Rose Garden on Monday, President Trump told reporters that he believed the investigation should be “comprehensive,” adding that he would be “open” to considering any evidence it unearthed.

“The F.B.I. should interview anybody that they want within reason, but you have to say ‘within reason,’” Trump said after announcing the completion of a new North American free-trade deal. “But they should also be guided, and I’m being guided, by what the senators are looking for.”

“I want them to do a very comprehensive investigation, whatever that means, according to the senators and the Republicans and the Republican majority,” Trump added. “I want them to do that. I want it to be comprehensive. I think it’s actually a good thing for Judge Kavanaugh.”

Asked about the allegations levied by Julie Swetnick, the client of attorney Michael Avenatti who implied in a sworn statement that Kavanaugh participated in multiple gang rapes in high school, Trump said Swetnick had “very little credibility,” but he would not oppose her inclusion in the probe.

“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,” he said.

Trump ordered the investigation on Friday after Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona announced that he would only support Kavanaugh’s confirmation if an investigation, limited in “time and scope,” was conducted first. While the White House has apparently agreed to expand the scope of the investigation, the one-week time limit initially imposed on the probe remains in effect.

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