October 22, 2018
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Collins says White House checked with her about widening FBI probe of Kavanaugh

Jacquelyn Martin | AP
Jacquelyn Martin | AP
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, talks on a cellphone in a hallway outside of a meeting of Senate Republicans with Vice President Mike Pence, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine communicated with White House staff about broadening an FBI investigation into sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

“Collins was consulted about the White House authorizing the expanded FBI approach to the Kavanaugh background check, and it is still her understanding that the work will still be completed in the original one-week timeline,” Annie Clark, Collins’ spokesperson, said Monday afternoon.

On Friday, Collins, a moderate Republican, said she supported an FBI investigation, which was expected to delay a Senate floor vote on the confirmation by one week. That time frame might shrink, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, on Monday expressed frustration about the delay and called for a vote this week.

During the weekend, Democrats and opponents of Kavanaugh’s nomination expressed skepticism about the scope of the investigation, with some suggesting that Collins should push back against limiting what the FBI could look into and who could be interviewed.

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee voted Friday to send Kavanaugh’s nomination to a full Senate vote, but not before the testimony from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford — who alleged that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were in high school — is investigated.

On Monday, President Donald Trump said he would permit the FBI to question anyone it deemed necessary, including Kavanaugh, effectively widening the scope of the investigation, the New York Times reported. A review of the FBI’s findings is still expected to be complete by Friday, Trump said.

In conjunction with Trump’s call for a “comprehensive” investigation, administration staff consulted Collins, one of three GOP senators who remain undecided about whether to support Kavanaugh. The other two are Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski and Arizona Republican Jeff Flake, who called for the FBI probe.

During almost 10 hours of emotional and turbulent testimony from Ford and Kavanaugh last Thursday before the committee, wherein Kavanaugh vehemently denied Ford’s allegations, the judge said he would support an FBI investigation if it was what the Judiciary Committee wanted.

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