background investigation, California, Christopher Wray, Deborah Ramirez, Dr. Blasey Ford, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, Dr. Ford, FBI, FBI investigation, Julie Swetnick, Kavanaugh, perjury, senator harris, Trump, witnesses
“October 10, 2018
Harris Presses FBI Director on White House Limits on Kavanaugh Investigation
WASHINGTON, D.C. – At a hearing of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee today, U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris pressed FBI Director Christopher Wray on the FBI’s recent supplemental background investigation of then-Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Under questioning by Harris, Wray confirmed that the White House directed the FBI’s investigation into Kavanaugh to be “very specific” and “very limited” in scope.
“[W]hen the FBI was directed then to do that investigation as it relates to those specific allegations, was the FBI given full discretion or was the scope of the investigation limited by the direction you received from the White House?,” Harris asked.
Wray responded, “[T]he investigation was very specific in scope, limited in scope, and that that is the usual process and that my folks have assured me that the usual process was followed.”
Harris also questioned Wray on whether the FBI has investigated potential perjury by Kavanaugh during his recent testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Wray did not answer and said he could not discuss the issue…
[Excerpt re Kavanaugh from] Full transcript of Harris’ questioning:
HARRIS: Thank you. Director Wray, I want to thank you and the men and women of your agency for the work you do every day. I think I’m the only member of this committee who is also a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and I would like to talk with you about the Kavanaugh hearings.
So I want to — I just want to be clear about how the system works. When the FBI was given the direction to do the background investigation as it related to Dr. Ford’s allegations, that’s an instruction that goes to the FBI from the White House, is that correct? Not from the Senate?
WRAY: That’s correct.
HARRIS: And when the FBI was directed then to do that investigation as it relates to those specific allegations, was the FBI given full discretion or was the scope of the investigation limited by the direction you received from the White House?
WRAY: Well, Senator, I want to be a little bit careful about what I can talk about in this setting.
HARRIS: So I’m clear, I’m not asking you for the content of the investigation.
HARRIS: Just the process.
WRAY: Understood. There are MOUs and other things that go back a ways that govern this. But I think it’s important — I would say this, it’s important to understand that the — unlike most investigations like the sort that you and I and Senator Jones have all been familiar with, traditional criminal investigations, national security investigations, a background investigation is very different and that is done — our only authority is as requested by the adjudicating agency.
HARRIS: The White House in this case.
WRAY: In this case, it’s the White House.
HARRIS: And I have a lot to cover and so if we can be as succinct as possible I’d appreciate it. I know there are a lot of details and I appreciate your point. So in this situation, was your direction limited in scope or were you given full direct — discretion to investigate whatever your agency thought was appropriate to figure out what happened?
WRAY: I think I would say that our investigation here, our supplemental update to the previous background investigation, was limited in scope and that that is consistent with the standard process for such investigations going back quite a long ways.
HARRIS: And was — did you receive this directive in writing?
WRAY: There has been lots of communication between, as is standard, between the FBI security division and the White House’s office –
HARRIS: Was it in writing?
WRAY: I would expect that there would be written communications, but I can’t speak to that here.
HARRIS: Can you find the direction and provide it to this committee? The documents?
WRAY: I would have to see what would be appropriate.
HARRIS: Okay. And who from the White House communicated the directive?
WRAY: Well as I said, the communication between the FBI and the White House for nominations, including judicial nominations, is through the FBI’s security division which has background investigation specialists and the White House Office of Security and that’s where the communication always is and I have spoken with our background investigation specialists and they have assured me that this was handled in the way that is consistent with their experience and the standard process.
HARRIS: Did they — did anyone in your agency receive any direction about the scope of the investigation directly from Don McGahn?
WRAY: Well, I can’t speak to what anybody throughout the organization might have received instructions on. My understanding is that the communications occurred between the White House’s Office of Security and the FBI security division.
HARRIS: Do you know who determined that the FBI would not interview Judge Kavanaugh or Dr. Ford or the list of 40 plus witnesses?
WRAY: Again, I would say what I said at the beginning, which is as is standard, the investigation was very specific in scope, limited in scope, and that that is the usual process and that my folks have assured me that the usual process was followed.
HARRIS: And did the FBI look into allegations as to whether Judge Kavanaugh lied to Congress during his testimony?
WRAY: That’s not something I can discuss here…” Emphasis our own. See original and additional questioning (on detainment of children) here: https://www.harris.senate.gov/news/press-releases/harris-presses-fbi-director-on-white-house-limits-on-kavanaugh-investigation