Despite the fact that Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh sailed through his confirmation hearing with bipartisan support (he did receive one Democratic vote from West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin III), Democrats plan to continue hounding him as some speculate that an effort to impeach Kavanaugh could begin shortly after the midterms. Given their hostility, it's hardly surprising that one of the senators who led the opposition to Kavanaugh's nomination seized the opportunity to grill FBI Director Chris Wray during what was supposed to be routine testimony about national security.
But when pressed by California Democrat Kamala Harris about how much direction the FBI received from the White House about the scope of its probe, Wray affirmed that the Kavanaugh expanded background check probe had been "consistent" with other similar investigations overseen by the bureau, per the Washington Post. Wray insisted that his "supplemental update" to the previous background check investigation was "limited in scope" and that this was "consistent with other investigations going back a long ways."
The Kavanaugh probe, Wray insisted, was "consistent with the standard process for such investigations going back quite a long ways."
Asked if he could turn over any written communications between the White House and the FBI relating to the investigation, Wray said he would need to check to see if that would be appropriate. He also refused to comment on what role, if any, was played by White House counsel Don McGahn in shaping the scope of the investigation, saying only that the probe was coordinated between the FBI's background investigations specialists and the White House's security division. He also refused to comment on who, specifically, communicated with the FBI regarding the probe.
"I have spoken with our background investigations specialist and they have assured me that this investigation was consistent in scope with our usual process."
When Harris pressed him who determined the FBI's decision not to interview some 40 witnesses, including Kavanaugh himself and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, he said only that the investigation was "very specific in scope and limited in scope" (the FBI ultimately interviewed nine witnesses during the extended investigation). Harris closed by asking whether the FBI looked into allegations that Kavanaugh lied under oath during his confirmation hearing.
"That's not something I could discuss here," Wray said.
Clips of the exchange soon circulated on social media:
Kamala Harris grills FBI Director Chris Wray on the Kavanaugh supplemental background investigation, Wray confirms that the investigation was "limited in scope" by the White House. (via CSPAN)pic.twitter.com/H2ms6cNQZQ— NotMyPresident (@ironstowe) October 10, 2018
As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Harris was one of the most vocal opponents of Kavanaugh's nomination, and praised Ford's bravery for speaking out publicly against him at great personal risk. During 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."