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Where Kavanaugh’s confirmation stands as Trump directs FBI to expand probe

President Trump said on Monday that he thinks the FBI should "do what they have to do to get to the answer" behind sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, including interviewing anyone within reason, but Trump also said he wanted speed. Democrats had accused the White House of limiting the investigation. Yamiche Alcindor sits down with Amna Nawaz.

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  • Amna Nawaz:

    President Trump directed the FBI to expand its investigation into sexual misconduct charges against Judge Kavanaugh.

    Yamiche Alcindor was at the White House today for that announcement.

  • President Donald Trump:

    Let the Senate decide. Whatever they want to do is OK with me, and also the FBI. I think the FBI should do what they have to do to get to the answer.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    President Trump this morning talking about the scope of a reopened FBI background check into Brett Kavanaugh.

    Though frustrated, Mr. Trump deferred to Congress, but said he wanted speed.

  • President Donald Trump:

    I want them to do a very comprehensive investigation. Now, with that being said, I would like it to go quickly. And the reason I would like it to go quickly, very simple. It's so simple. Because it's unfair to him at this point.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Democrats had accused the White House of limiting the investigation of sexual assault and misconduct by Kavanaugh in high school and college.

  • Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.:

    We certainly want the FBI to do a real investigation. And we are working to make sure that that happens.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    The Republican who pressured the president into approving the probe, Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, also raised concerns today about its thoroughness.

    Flake spoke in Boston, where protesters heckled him and demanded he oppose Kavanaugh's nomination.

  • Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.:

    It does no good to have an investigation that just gives us more cover, for example. We actually need to find out what we can find out. Some witnesses or potential witnesses may not want to cooperate. But for those that can and those who we can compel to cooperate, we have got to do a fulsome investigation.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Soon after, The New York Times reported the president has now directed the FBI to interview anyone it deems necessary, so long as the review is finished by Friday.

    Agents are now expected to question Christine Blasey Ford, who testified Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. She said, when they were teenagers, Kavanaugh assaulted her.

    Yesterday, FBI agents spoke with another accuser, Debbie Ramirez, according to reports. She alleges at a party when they were students at Yale, Kavanaugh exposed himself. It's still unclear whether a third woman will be questioned. Julie Swetnick has accused Kavanaugh of drugging girls, so they could be gang-raped in high school.

    The FBI also has started questioning Kavanaugh's high school friend Mark Judge. Christine Blasey Ford says he was in the room when she was attacked.

    Meanwhile, new questions have emerged over whether Kavanaugh lied during his Senate testimony about his drinking. On Sunday, Chad Ludington became the second of Kavanaugh's Yale classmates to say he was — quote — "a heavy drinker in college." He also said Kavanaugh at times became belligerent and aggressive when drunk.

    President Trump was questioned today about what would happen if investigators find evidence that Kavanaugh lied under oath.

  • President Donald Trump:

    Certainly, if they find something, I'm going to take that into consideration, absolutely. I have a very open mind.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    In the meantime, debate on Kavanaugh's nomination resumed this afternoon the Senate floor.

  • Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii:

    We all saw something about judge Kavanaugh's temperament and character that day that should disqualify him from serving on the Supreme Court of the United States. He was angry, he was belligerent, he was partisan. He went on the attack against senators questioning him.

    These are not qualities we look for in a Supreme Court justice or a judge, for that matter.

  • Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.:

    In my judgment, the pattern of behavior we have seen confirms what Democrats' own public statements have told us. They're committed to delaying, obstructing and resisting this nomination with everything they have got. They just want to delay this matter past the electron.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    The Senate is expected to vote on Kavanaugh's nomination shortly after the FBI wraps up its investigation.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    And Yamiche is here with me now.

    Yamiche, we heard the president express support for Judge Kavanaugh. He also said he has an open mind. How firm is his support for his candidate?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    The White House currently is standing very, very firm with Brett Kavanaugh.

    The president gave very vigorous defense of him. And the White House today was sending out statements from Brett Kavanaugh's friends and former classmates at Yale. They all say that Brett Kavanaugh didn't black out drunk when they knew him. They also said that he treated women very respectfully.

    But that, of course, is in direct contrast with other Yale classmates of Brett Kavanaugh who say that he did get very drunk and that he was very aggressive. All that's happening while the president is also saying that he doesn't want to look at any people — he doesn't want to look at any replacements.

    But we all know that there's a long list of people that he, that the president put out of about maybe 10 names of people who could possibly be other people that he would nominate. So just out there, the president has that.

    The other thing that's really important is, the president said that he was very surprised by how vocal Brett Kavanaugh was about his drinking. And the president made sure to note that he himself has never even drank a beer.

    And that's again showing that Brett Kavanaugh is a very different person to Donald Trump, whose older brother Freddy Trump died in his 40s from alcoholism. So there's a real personal connection there with President Trump and drinking that could open up the door.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Obviously, no one knows where the investigation is going to go. But we know the White House first indicated it should be limited, but now seems to be broadening that scope.

    How involved is the White House in actually setting parameters for what the FBI is looking into?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, it's clear that the White House wants this to be small and it wants it to be quick.

    All that said, President Trump really has the power to do whatever he wants to do in terms of the FBI. I have been talking to sources who say the FBI is in the executive branch, and the president is within his authority to say, you need to talk to these two women and that's it.

    And today at the press conference, he was pretty clear with the fact that he thought Debbie Ramirez and Dr. Ford should be the people that the FBI should be focused on. But with all that, his hand is really being forced by Jeff Flake and other Republicans who say, look, the FBI needs to be able to do its work.

    So this afternoon, the FBI was given the authority by the White House to really talk to anyone it deems necessary. And that means that they could be looking at Brett Kavanaugh, not just his conversations about sexual misconduct and other allegations, but that he could actually be talking about little lies.

    There are some people who have pointed out that Brett Kavanaugh said he had no connections to Yale, when, in fact, his grandfather went to Yale and he was a legacy student.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    It's worth pointing out, if you take a step back here, this nomination was full steam ahead not too long ago.

    And now it's mired in — at the very least, uncertainty, right, maybe some roadblocks in the week ahead.

    What do we know about how the president is watching all of this unfold?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    The president is fuming. And he's calling senators every day, basically saying, we control the Senate. The Republicans control the Senate. Why in the world can't we just push this through?

    And, essentially, the president wants to look at the Republicans and say, why can't you do that?

    And, as a result, he's really doing what he's doing, watching TV, really boding and — angry about the fact that this hasn't gone through. But, at the end of the day, the president has really only certain things he can do. He could nominate somebody, but he has to wait on the Senate to really do that.

    So, again, I go back to that idea that while the White House is saying they're standing with Brett Kavanaugh, there is that list out there of other people. And the president said, I'm going to look at what the FBI is doing, and then I will figure out what happens next.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    We will follow it from here.

    Yamiche Alcindor on the story for us, good to talk to you.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Thanks.

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