Key Democrats Question Scope of FBI Probe Into Brett Kavanaugh

(Bloomberg) -- Democrats on the House and Senate judiciary panels are questioning the scope of an FBI investigation into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, saying a limited inquiry could taint his appointment and open the door for future probes.

“I hope the FBI has free hands over the next week to investigate, and that certainly means to call in all the relevant witnesses,” Representative Jerrold Nadler, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

“If they don’t, that’s a real problem,” he said, adding: “If he is on the Supreme Court and the Senate hasn’t investigated, then the House will have to.”

Nadler’s remarks follow news reports that the FBI won’t investigate the claims of a third woman who’s alleged sexual misconduct by Kavanaugh, and that other topics may be off-limits as well.

The White House says it hasn’t limited the scope of the probe, though Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a member of the Judiciary Committee, didn’t specify whether the woman, Julie Swetnick, would be questioned. Speaking on “This Week,” he called her charges “outrageous” and said the FBI would question Kavanaugh’s friend during the time of the allegations, Mark Judge.

Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, another Judiciary Committee member, said she’s concerned Republicans are trying to water down the brief investigation, which Graham said in a separate appearance on Fox’s “Sunday Morning Futures” could wrap up as soon as Monday or Tuesday.

‘Bad Enough’

“Even if there’s seven days, that’s bad enough, but then to limit the FBI as to the scope and who they’re going to question, that really -- I don’t want to use the word farce -- but that’s not the kind of investigation all of us are expecting the FBI to conduct,” Hirono said on “This Week.”

Hirono and Nadler said the Kavanaugh would probably have to recuse himself from cases involving congressional Democrats if he’s confirmed to the Supreme Court, given his partisan tone in last week’s hearing. Graham said Kavanaugh, who denies all accusations of sexual misconduct, simply had the demeanor of an innocent man.

Democratic Senator Christopher Coons, also a Judiciary Committee member, criticized Kavanaugh’s performance in the hearing, in which the nominee angrily attacked Democrats on the committee. Kavanaugh said opposition to his appointment was stoked by “revenge on behalf of the Clintons, and millions of dollars of money from outside left-wing opposition groups.”

“It made me wonder about his suitability to serve on the bench,” Coons said in an interview for CBS’s “60 Minutes” that air in full on Sunday night.

Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota, had a heated exchange with Kavanaugh during Thursday’s hearing, in which she asked the federal judge whether he’d ever been blackout drunk. “I don’t know,” he said. “Have you?”

“I was really stunned by how he acted,” she said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “This is a -- basically a job interview for the highest court of the land.”

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