image image

United States

Brett Kavanaugh accuser Julie Swetnick to be excluded from FBI investigation

The White House, which has stood by Kavanaugh throughout the fallout from an explosive Senate hearing, denies it is limiting the investigation

PUBLISHED : Monday, 01 October, 2018, 3:05am
UPDATED : Monday, 01 October, 2018, 5:35am

The FBI will not interview Julie Swetnick, the third woman to accuse Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, according to multiple reports and Republican senator Lindsey Graham, highlighting the narrow scope of the agency’s supplemental investigation into Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee.

After NBC News and the other outlets said Swetnick would not be questioned, the White House, which has stood by Kavanaugh throughout the fallout from an explosive Senate hearing on Thursday, denied it was limiting the investigation.

On Saturday Donald Trump said on Twitter he wanted the FBI “to interview whoever they deem appropriate, at their discretion”.

Swetnick has an extensive history of involvement in legal disputes, including a lawsuit in which an ex-employer accused her of falsifying her college and work history on her job application, according to a report on Sunday.

Legal documents reviewed by reporters show Swetnick has been involved in at least six legal cases over the past 25 years. Along with the lawsuit filed by a former employer in November 2000, the cases include a personal injury suit she filed in 1994 against the Washington, DC, regional transit authority.

Meanwhile, on Sunday Kellyanne Conway, a senior Trump counsellor, told CNN’s State of the Union: “We trust the hardworking men and women of the FBI to do their jobs, and they will determine what will be included within that scope.”

Conway also revealed that she had been a victim of sexual assault.

“I feel very empathetic, frankly, for victims of sexual assault and sexual harassment and rape … I’m a victim of sexual assault,” she said.

Swetnick and two other women, Dr Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez, have accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct during his high school and college years in the early 1980s.

Brett Kavanaugh and his accuser Christine Blasey Ford testify

Ramirez, who says Kavanaugh exposed his genitals to her while they were at Yale, is among four witnesses expected to be interviewed by the FBI in the investigation, commissioned by Trump after an intervention from Arizona Republican senator Jeff Flake, that is set to last less than a week.

Ford, a professor at Palo Alto University, accuses Kavanaugh of attempted rape. During testimony before the Senate judiciary committee which gripped the nation on Thursday, Ford said she was 100% certain it was Kavanaugh who assaulted her and described in vivid detail the night of the alleged attack at a house party outside Washington.

The other witnesses to be questioned by the FBI, the New York Times reported, are Kavanaugh’s friend Mark Judge and Leland Keyser and PJ Smyth, also said to have been at the party at which Ford says Kavanaugh assaulted her.

Kavanaugh, 53, denies all allegations against him.

Swetnick has claimed, in a sworn statement, that Kavanaugh and Judge engaged in lewd behaviour with young women at high school parties, and alleged the two placed drugs or alcohol in punch in order to inebriate women so they could be “gang raped” by other partygoers.

Judge has denied Swetnick’s allegations. Ford says he was present during her alleged assault; he has said he has no memory of the alleged attack.

Kavanaugh to face FBI inquiry before Senate votes on court confirmation

On Sunday, Swetnick’s lawyer, Michael Avenatti, wrote on Twitter that he was “still waiting for the FBI to contact me or my client”. Avenatti also represents Stormy Daniels, the adult film actor who says she had a sexual affair with Trump, a claim the president denies.

Avenatti added: “How do you conduct a legitimate, fair [and] thorough investigation into allegations unless you interview the person actually making the allegations about her experiences, what she witnessed, and what facts and other witnesses she is aware of? Answer – YOU CAN’T. And that’s by design.”

Democrats urged the FBI to investigate Swetnick’s claims and voiced concern that the White House may be narrowing the scope of the agency’s work.

“I’m very concerned about this because the White House should not be allowed to micromanage an FBI investigation,” Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who sits on the judiciary committee, told CNN.

She added: “I think she [Swetnick] has to be interviewed by the FBI. I haven’t met her. I believe in due process, she did sign an affidavit.”

Republican leaders are keen to push Kavanaugh’s nomination through before the midterm elections in November. But a handful of swing voters, including Flake, Republicans Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski and Democrats up for re-election in red-leaning states, have yet to declare their positions.

No date has been set for a full floor vote.