FBI begins investigation into Brett Kavanaugh sexual assault allegations


The Senate Judiciary Committee has referred an individual who made "materially false statements" alleging misconduct by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh to the FBI and Justice Department for a criminal investigation.

"The White House is not micromanaging this process", White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in an interview with Fox News Sunday.

"The Senate is dictating the terms", she said. "The FBI, this is what they do. And we're out of the way and letting them do exactly that".

At the White House, President Donald Trump said that though he found Ford's testimony "compelling" and "credible", he was pleased with what Kavanaugh said at the hearing.

Kavanaugh has denied both Ford's and Ramirez's allegations.

In a stunning reversal on Friday, the Senate judiciary committee asked the Trump administration to order the FBI to investigate the misconduct allegations - but only after the panel sent Kavanaugh's nomination to the full Senate for a final vote.

FILE PHOTO: Judge Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee during his Supreme Court confirmation hearing in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, U.S., September 27, 2018.

Republicans control 51 seats in the closely divided 100-member Senate and can not afford to lose more than one vote on confirmation.

"The nomination of Judge Kavanaugh has become a referendum on how to address allegations of sexual assault", the editors wrote. "It's raw partisan politics".

The New York Times, citing people familiar with the matter, reported that the White House asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation to share its findings after the initial interviews and that Trump and his advisers would then decide whether the accusations should be investigated further.

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Asked on Saturday about whether he needs a backup plan in the event that Kavanaugh's nomination fails, President Trump said, "I don't need a backup plan". In a tweet Saturday, Mr. Trump wrote, "I want them to interview whoever they deem appropriate, at their discretion". "Hello!", he wrote on his Twitter account.

The FBI did interview the second accuser Deborah Ramirez on Sunday, sources said.

Republicans and Kavanaugh's defenders have argued that because the alleged assault happened 36 years ago, Ford may be remembering it wrong, and that it should carry less weight compared to Kavanaugh's standing since then.

The White House had no immediate comment about Ludington's accusations.

ABC News' Cindy Smith contributed reporting.

A senior administration official told the Times that Don McGahn was leading the White House effort to help direct the scope of the background check.

Humphries said that agents, typically working in pairs, will visit witnesses selected by the end user, in this case the White House. "This is just completely made up, or at least not me", Kavanaugh told the committee, according to transcripts.

Republicans later called the White House to discuss the scope of the probe, the person said.

Conway told CNN that she was only aware of the parameters the Senate set on the probe.

In a statement issued by the White House on Friday, Kavanaugh said he will continue cooperating with the confirmation process. On the vote, the president said senators "have to do what they think is right" and "be comfortable with themselves".