FBI interviews Kavanaugh accuser Deborah Ramirez as part of its narrow scope

CNN/Stylemagazine.com Newswire | 10/1/2018, 9:51 a.m.
The FBI investigation into allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is narrowly focused, top officials said in interviews on ...
The FBI investigation into sexual assault and misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh appears to be narrowly focused, according to top officials in public interviews on Sunday and CNN sources.

By Eli Watkins, Jeff Zeleny and Josh Campbell, CNN

(CNN) -- The FBI investigation into allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is narrowly focused, top officials said in interviews on Sunday, with sources telling CNN that the White House is controlling the scope of the probe.

The investigation is the result of a dramatic day in Washington on Friday that began with quick movement toward Kavanaugh's confirmation and ended with a pause in the process while the FBI steps in. Following the agreement for the FBI to investigate Kavanaugh, the focus has moved to how the probe will be handled, its ultimate findings, and whether it will put to rest fears about a lack of due diligence over the nominee for the nation's highest court.

A source with knowledge of the investigation told CNN that the FBI would take its direction from the White House, not the Senate, and that the agency would interview a handful of people.

One of those people interviewed included Deborah Ramirez, whom the FBI interviewed Sunday, a source told CNN on Sunday afternoon. Ramirez came forward last week with allegations Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a party while both were students at Yale, a claim which Kavanaugh immediately denied.

What's being investigated -- or not?

Kavanaugh's drinking history, which has come up in the allegations, is not part of the probe, which is being managed by the FBI's security division at the agency's headquarters in Washington, the source said.

While President Donald Trump declared Saturday that the FBI would have "free rein" in its investigation, people close to the matter say the scope is far more limited. White House counsel Don McGhan, who is the administration's leading advocate for Kavanaugh's confirmation, is overseeing the probe for the President and working closely with Senate Republican leaders.

The source reiterated that the agents would make no conclusion about what witnesses tell them and would hand their results over to the White House, which is standard protocol in similar background investigations. The source would not say if the direction the FBI received listed specific people or if it was to investigate specific allegations.

Kavanaugh has denied all the allegations made against him.

In a tweet Sunday afternoon, Trump pushed back on criticism of the FBI investigation.

"Wow! Just starting to hear the Democrats, who are only thinking Obstruct and Delay, are starting to put out the word that the 'time' and 'scope' of FBI looking into Judge Kavanaugh and witnesses is not enough. Hello! For them, it will never be enough - stay tuned and watch!" he wrote.

A source briefed on the matter said the White House gave the limited scope of the investigation to the FBI based on what the Senate asked.

Trump ordered the investigation on Friday after Arizona GOP Sen. Jeff Flake pushed for the Senate to request the FBI review.

Two sources with knowledge of the situation told CNN, however, that Senate Republicans were working with White House counsel Don McGahn, who was "trying to make it as narrow as possible."