Trump says FBI does not need to investigate sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh

President says he remains 'totally supportive' of nominee

Emily Shugerman
New York
Tuesday 18 September 2018 23:18
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Five key moments from Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's senate hearing

President Donald Trump has said he does not think the FBI needs to investigate sexual assault allegations against his Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh.

"I don't think the FBI really need to be involved because they don't want to be involved,” Mr Trump said.

“If they wanted to be, I would certainly do that, but as you know, they say this is not really their thing,” he continued, adding that he remained “totally supportive” of his nominee.

The president has stood by Mr Kavanaugh amid an allegation that the judge sexually assaulted a student at a nearby high school when they were both teenagers. Mr Kavanaugh has vigorously denied the allegation, but some Democrats have called on the FBI to investigate further – even if it means delaying his hearing by weeks.

The FBI seemed unlikely to do so. A Justice Department spokesperson said on Tuesday that the bureau had no further role in the matter, as the allegation "does not involve any potential federal crime".

"The FBI does not make any judgment about the credibility or significance of any allegation," the spokesperson said in a statement. "The purpose of a background investigation is to determine whether the nominee could pose a risk to the national security of the United States."

"The FBI's role in such matters is to provide information for the use of the decision makers," the statement continued.

Kavanaugh sexual misconduct accuser willing to testify before congress, says her lawyer

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, meanwhile, declared the FBI probe “closed” in a radio interview on Tuesday, saying the bureau was “not doing any further investigation”.

The chairman also questioned whether a judiciary committee hearing with Mr Kavanaugh and his accuser, California professor Christine Blasey Ford, would proceed as scheduled on Monday. Mr Grassley said attorneys for Ms Ford had not responded to multiple entreaties from his office over the last 36 hours.

“It kind of raises the question, do they want to come to the public hearing or not?” Mr Grassley asked on the Hugh Hewitt Show. “What would be the purpose of the hearing if Dr Ford doesn’t want to respond?”

Ms Ford reluctantly made her identity public last week, after several news outlets reported on a letter she had sent to her senator months ago with her allegations.

In the letter, and in a subsequent interview with the Washington Post, Ms Ford claimed Mr Kavanaugh assaulted her at a party in the early 1980s. She said the high school athlete pinned her onto a bed, put his hand over her mouth, and attempted to take off her clothes. She was able to escape when a friend of Mr Kavanaugh’s jumped on both of them.

Mr Kavanagh has stringently denied the allegation, calling it “completely false”.

"I have never done anything like what the accuser describes – to her or to anyone,” he said in a statement on Monday. “Because this never happened, I had no idea who was making this accusation until she identified herself yesterday.”

He added: “I am willing to talk to the Senate Judiciary Committee in any way the committee deems appropriate to refute this false allegation, from 36 years ago, and defend my integrity."

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