(Bloomberg) — Senate Republicans, not the White House, set the scope of the FBI probe into sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh, including the decision not to interview the Supreme Court nominee or accuser Christine Blasey Ford, said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
In an interview shortly before the Senate is set to vote on confirming Kavanaugh, McConnell said GOP members of the Judiciary Committee made the decision in a meeting with two other Republicans who were at the time withholding their support, Senator Susan Collins of Maine and Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.
Collins later announced she’ll back Kavanaugh, while Murkowski opposes confirmation.
“The White House took grief for setting the scope, but we gave them the scope,” said McConnell of Kentucky.
“We reached an agreement that it had to be done in seven days, the FBI needed to talk to anyone Dr. Ford mentioned, and also Ramirez and anyone she mentioned,” McConnell said. He was referring to Deborah Ramirez, who said Kavanaugh exposed himself to her during a drunken party while they attended Yale University in the 1980s.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa previously told reporters he hadn’t restricted what the Federal Bureau of Investigation could investigate or who they could interview beyond looking at current, credible allegations.
Regarding the decision not to ask the FBI to interview Kavanaugh or Ford, McConnell said, “None of them wanted to do that. We just heard testimony, hours and hours of testimony. Nobody thought there was a need to do the same thing all over again.”
Ford, a California psychology professor, accused Kavanaugh of holding her down, trying to disrobe her, and covering her mouth to keep her from screaming during a house party in high school. She and Kavanaugh testified at a raucous Sept. 27 hearing, where he angrily and tearfully denied her allegations.