Judiciary Chairman Nadler Revisits FBI's Kavanaugh Investigation at Oversight Hearing

By Susan Jones | February 6, 2020 | 6:18am EST
FBI Director Christopher Wray (File Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)
FBI Director Christopher Wray (File Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) - As the U.S. Senate headed for certain acquittal of President Donald Trump on Wednesday, House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) appeared to be seeking more dirt on President Trump as well as questioning the legitimacy of Trump's Supreme Court appointee Brett Kavanaugh.

FBI Director Christopher Wray was the witness at Wednesday's oversight hearing.

Nadler told Wray, "There remains a great deal of mistrust and uncertainty around the FBI's supplemental background check of Justice Kavanaugh during the last few days of that confirmation. The country needs a better understanding of that process."

Nadler wanted to know if the FBI background check of Kavanaugh had been "strictly curtailed by the White House."

Here is Nadler's exchange with Wray:

Nadler:

I have one more topic. There has been a lot of confusion in the public about the Bureau's role in conducting background checks for Senate confirmed appointments, including judicial nominees.

My understanding is that when conducting these background checks, the FBI is restricted to the scope and subject matter requested by the client agency. In the case of Justice Kavanaugh's appointment, I understand that the client agency was the White House -- specifically, the White House counsel's office. So if -- yes or no -- if the White House had directed the FBI to interview some witnesses but not others, or if they had told you to complete the process by a certain date, would the FBI have followed that request?

WRAY:

The process that exists for background investigations, including supplemental updates to background investigations, is very different from a criminal investigation or a national security investigation, and as you noted, Mr. Chairman, by longstanding practice and process under background investigations the FBI is what's called the investigative service provider or the ISP.

And we do whatever we do in a background investigation, much less an update to that background investigation, only at the direction or request of the adjudicating agency, which in this case would be the White House. And they set the scope for what we (do).

Nadler interrupted:

That's what I'm seeking to get at. They set the scope. So in other words, if the White House or the Senate or whoever is requesting investigation says, tell us everything you know about this fellow, you do that. And if they say, only look at this or that, you would only look at this or that.

Wray responded:

We follow the request of the adjudicating agency. But I would say that that is not unique to the Justice Kavanaugh situation or anything else. That's longstanding process, and I've consulted with our background investigation specialist as I did back at the time -- to ensure this process, as it was in that instance, was done by the book. Now the book for--for background investigations is different for these other--

"I understand that," Nadler interrupted again. "So, if there is criticism--if there is criticism of the limited scope of the FBI investigation, the criticism would be properly directed, not at the FBI, but at whoever issued the instructions delineating the scope of the investigation.

"Well, I--I can't speak to whether there should be criticism, but as I say--" Wray said.

Nadler cut in again: "If there is to be criticism, the criticism would be directed validly or invalidly at whoever gave you the instructions as to the scope of the investigation, not at the FBI?"

"I think if the--if the Senate or the Congress wants the scope to be broader, they should direct that request to the adjudicating agency," Wray said.

"Very good. Thank you very much," Nadler said, as he turned the questioning over to an incredulous Ranking Member Doug Collins (R-Ga.), who noted that it's taken a year for Nadler to "reinvestigate the Kavanaugh hearing."

"It's interesting to me that the chairman couldn't let it go," Collins said.

Earlier in his questioning of Wray, Nadler asked the FBI director if Trump or any other administration official has "asked the FBI to open an investigation into Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, John Bolton or any member of Congress."

Wray indicated no, telling Nadler: "No one has asked me to open an investigation based on anything other than the facts, the law and proper predication."

As The Federalist reported in November 2018, Nadler, speaking on a cell phone while riding an Acela train to Washington, was overheard discussing ways to investigate and impeach Justice Kavanaugh.

According to The Federalist, Nadler and a friend discussed two routes for investigating the new Supreme Court Justice:

The first is to go after the FBI for how they handled the investigation into unsubstantiated claims he sexually assaulted women. 'They didn’t even do a half-ass job,' he said. "They didn’t interview 30 witnesses who said ‘Interview me! I’ve got a lot to say!'” he said, while mimicking people waving their hands to be called on.

His other plan is to go after Kavanaugh because “there’s a real indication that Kavanaugh committed perjury.”

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