The FBI has requested an interview with Deborah Ramirez, the second woman to come forward with an allegation of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, amid a report that the White House is micromanaging the parameters of the bureau’s inquiry.
The bureau is pursuing the matter on the order of President Donald Trump, who on Friday agreed to have the agency open an investigation into “current credible allegations” against the judge. Trump said the investigation would be limited to one week, but an NBC News report on Saturday suggested the FBI was being put on a relatively short leash.
“We can confirm the FBI has reached out to interview Ms. Ramirez and she has agreed to cooperate with their investigation,” the lawyer, John Clune, said in a statement given to NBC News. “Out of respect for the integrity of the process, we will have no further comment at this time.”
Meanwhile, the White House is limiting the scope of the FBI’s investigation, multiple people briefed on the matter told NBC, with investigators set to speak with only Ramirez and Christine Blasey Ford, the California professor whose allegations sparked the initial furor.
The bureau will not be allowed to look into claims raised by Julie Swetnick, who has accused Kavanaugh of being part of a group of boys who targeted girls at parties while he was a high school student at Georgetown Preparatory School in the 1980s.
Rather than probing Swetnick’s allegations, the White House counsel’s office has given the FBI a list of witnesses they are permitted to interview, several people told NBC, on the condition of anonymity. Swetnick’s attorney, Michael Avenatti, confirmed to CNBC Saturday that he had not yet heard from the FBI about an interview.
Asked if he expected to, Avenatti said “I certainly hope so.” A White House spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment from CNBC regarding the NBC report.
Ramirez’s claim first surfaced in a New Yorker article published on Sunday. She alleged that Kavanaugh drunkenly exposed himself to her at a party at Yale University during the 1983-1984 school year, while the two were both freshmen. In her account, Ramirez said that Kavanaugh caused her to touch his penis without her permission.
Kavanaugh has categorically denied the accusation, calling it “a smear, plain and simple.” In a statement, the White House said the “uncorroborated claim is the latest in a coordinated smear campaign by the Democrats designed to tear down a good man.”
The push to open an FBI investigation was led by Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who was considered to be the lone swing vote on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Flake’s request for an FBI probe, and a delay of the confirmation vote, followed Thursday’s whirlwind, nine-hour hearing with Kavanaugh and Ford. Her allegation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a high school gathering more than three decades ago thrust the confirmation process into chaos.
Kavanaugh has flatly denied each of the allegations.