Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Donald Trump, said Sunday that the FBI investigation into sexual assault and misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh “will be limited in scope, it’s meant to last one week, and … it’s not meant to be a fishing expedition.”
Conway’s comments came in response to a question from CNN “State of the Union” anchor Jake Tapper on whether the White House has directed the FBI to only investigate certain accusations against Kavanaugh, who has denied the allegations.
“The White House is not getting involved in the FBI investigation in that way,” Conway said. “The President has said he very much respects the independence of the FBI and feels, as he said last night, that they should look into anything that is credible within that limited scope.”
When pressed on what “limited scope” means, Conway said, “That’s up to the FBI. In other words, I’m not involved in those specific conversations.”
Two sources with knowledge of the situation told CNN that Senate Republicans were working with White House counsel Don McGahn, who was “trying to make it as narrow as possible.”
The FBI has started investigating Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were high schoolers. FBI agents are also expected to interview several people who Ford said were present at the party where the alleged assault took place, including Mark Judge, Patrick J. Smyth and Leland Keyser, sources familiar with the matter told CNN. Deborah Ramirez, another woman who came forward with allegations against Kavanaugh, has been contacted by the FBI, according to an attorney for Ramirez.
As of Sunday morning, there was no indication that the FBI was going to talk to Julie Swetnick, who also came forward with allegations against Kavanaugh as well as Judge. Two Republican sources familiar with the matter have told CNN that the hope is that when investigators sit down with Judge, they will ask him not only about Ford’s allegations, but also about those made by Swetnick. Judge has denied any memory of the assault Ford described and said in a statement that he categorically denied Swetnick’s allegations.
Conway said she did not believe McGahn would have restricted who the FBI could talk to.
“I don’t think Don McGahn would do that, but I’ve not talked to him about it,” Conway said.
In an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders used similar language as Conway in discussing the scope of the FBI probe.
“The White House is not micromanaging this process,” Sanders said. “The Senate is dictating the terms.”
When asked if McGahn had given the FBI a list of interviewees, Sanders said, “Not that I’m aware of.”
“The White House counsel has allowed the Senate to dictate what these terms look like and what the scope of the investigation is,” Sanders said.
She added, “This can’t become a fishing expedition like the Democrats would like to see it be.”
Trump said on Saturday that the FBI had “free rein” to investigate Kavanaugh. The President ordered the probe into Kavanaugh on Friday after Arizona GOP Sen. Jeff Flake pushed for one at the Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmation vote.
CNN’s Jeff Zeleny, Veronica Stracqualursi, Ariane de Vogue and Dana Bash contributed to this report.