White House authorizes FBI to expand

The White House has reportedly permitted the FBI to interview anyone deemed appropriate in its investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

The New York Times reported on Monday that the White House gave authorization to expand the investigation from an initial limited list of witnesses, provided that the review is completed by the end of the week.

The FBI has already spoken with the four individuals it had been given permission to speak to, the newspaper reported.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Times report came shortly after President Trump insisted at a press conference that he wanted a "comprehensive investigation" of the claims against Kavanaugh, as long as it's completed quickly.

"I think the FBI should do what they have to do to get to the answer," Trump told reporters during a press conference announcing a new trade deal with Mexico and Canada.

"Now with that being said, I’d like it go quickly," he continued. "And the reason I'd like it to go quickly — very simple, so simple — because it’s unfair to [Kavanaugh] at this point."

Democrats on Sunday criticized the White House for "micromanaging" the investigation amid reports that the administration provided the FBI a limited list of witnesses to interview. The White House also only gave the bureau permission to review allegations from Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez, but not Julie Swetnick, the third woman to publicly accuse Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct.

The White House disputed that it was involved in the review, instead arguing that Senate Republicans were dictating the terms of the investigation.

Trump suggested he was open to the FBI talking to whomever it wanted to interview — including Kavanaugh himself and all three women who have leveled accusations against him — but also suggested that his view of the investigation was colored by what the Senate GOP wanted.

"I’m guided by the Senate," Trump said. "I want to make the Senate happy, because ultimately they’re making the judgment. I’m not making the judgment."

The president said he expected the bureau to speak with Ford — who testified last week that Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed and groped her in the 1980s — and Ramirez, who claimed that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her during a college party in the 1980s.

Kavanaugh has denied both allegations.

Trump also said he would be OK with the FBI speaking with Swetnick, who is represented by Michael Avenatti, but suggested that she has "very little credibility."

"If there is any credibility, interview the third one," Trump said. "But I want it to be done quickly because it's unfair to the family and to the judge."

Swetnick alleged in a signed declaration last week that Kavanaugh was part of a group of high schoolers in the 1980s who intoxicated women so they could be "gang raped."

Kavanaugh called the allegation a "farce," and Trump has attacked Avenatti as a "lowlife."

The president has repeatedly suggested he expects the FBI investigation to exonerate Kavanaugh, noting that the judge has undergone several other background checks for his past government work without issue.

Trump on Monday did appear to leave the door open to changing his mind about his nominee depending on the FBI's findings this week.

"Certainly if they find something, I’m going to take that into consideration," the president said. "I have a very open mind. The person that takes that position is going to be there a very long time."

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