WASHINGTON ― White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders refused to say Wednesday whether the Trump administration was limiting the scope of the supplementary background investigation into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Bloomberg reported on Wednesday that the White House had not authorized the bureau to interview either Kavanaugh or Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Kavanaugh of drunkenly sexually assaulting her in the early 1980s while accompanied by his friend Mark Judge.
Huckabee Sanders said Kavanaugh and Ford had been heard “in the most public way possible” during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing after the allegations emerged. That gave senators an opportunity to question both Kavanaugh and Ford directly, she said.
“If they had additional questions for either one of them, they had a time and an opportunity, certainly, to ask those,” she said.
The FBI background investigation into Kavanaugh isn’t a criminal probe, so it’s not necessarily improper for the White House to direct the bureau’s actions. The White House is, essentially, the bureau’s client.
Frank Figliuzzi, a former FBI assistant director for counterintelligence, told reporters on Wednesday that the background check process is unlike anything else the FBI does.
“Everything else the FBI does ... the client is the American people. In background investigations ... the client is the White House,” Figliuzzi said. “There’s a flaw there because it’s essentially like hiring a private detective agency to follow your cheating spouse. You work for your client, you do what they want, and they shape the outcome.”
But limiting the probe would expose the White House to criticism that it isn’t really interested in getting to the truth of the matter, but is simply seeking to ― in the words of Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) ― give Republicans “more cover.”
This story has been updated with a quote from Frank Figliuzzi.