March 23, 2019
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FBI director expected to face questions about Kavanaugh probe during Senate hearing

Evan Vucci | AP
Evan Vucci | AP
FBI Director Christopher Wray speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, Aug. 2, 2018.

WASHINGTON — FBI Director Christopher Wray is scheduled to testify Wednesday before a Senate committee, which will probably question him about the role White House officials played in the bureau’s investigation of sexual assault claims against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Wray is scheduled to appear alongside Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen at a hearing about security threats held by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

He is likely to face a number of questions about the FBI’s role in the bruising political battle last week over the Kavanaugh nomination. After a California professor came forward claiming Kavanaugh attempted to rape her when the two were teenagers, the White House ordered a follow-up background check to look into the allegations.

The FBI questioned nine people as part of that inquiry, and Democrats have accused White House officials of severely curtailing the FBI’s ability to learn the truth.

Background check investigations are not like criminal probes, which are conducted independently to decide whether someone should be charged with a crime. Rather, they are an investigation conducted at the direction and specifications of the White House to answer particular questions about a nominee or job candidate.

Kavanaugh was confirmed by a mostly partisan vote Saturday. At a swearing-in ceremony at the White House Monday, President Donald Trump said that “what happened to the Kavanaugh family violates every notion of fairness, decency and due process.”

He told Kavanaugh: “You, sir, under historic scrutiny, were proven innocent.”

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, one of the lawmakers on the committee that will question Wray, sharply criticized the background inquiry on the Senate floor last week.

“This was not a search for the truth, this was not an investigation, this was an abdication of responsibility and duty,” Harris said.

Lawyers for Christine Blasey Ford, the first of three women to accuse Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, wrote to Wray directly with their concerns, calling it “inconceivable” that the FBI could conclude its investigation without interviewing either her or Kavanaugh.

Wray is also likely to field questions about special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and whether any Trump associates assisted in those efforts.

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