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FBI Chief to Senate Panel: 'Usual Process' Followed in Kavanaugh Probe

Christopher Wray

WASHINGTON – FBI Director Chris Wray assured a Senate panel this week that the background investigation of newly confirmed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh followed normal procedures.

The news follows complaints from Democrats that the White House constrained the intelligence agency and worked with Senate Republicans to limit the probe of sexual assault allegations against the judge.    

Speaking at a Senate committee hearing on national security threats, Wray acknowledged the FBI's authority in such investigations is determined by the agency that requested it – which in this case, he noted, was the White House.

Still, the FBI chief said the "usual process" was followed, noting the probe was combined with several other previous background checks.

"Our investigation here, our supplemental update to the previous background investigation, was limited in scope, and that was standard for background investigations going back a long ways," Wray told the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.

"As is standard, the investigation was very specific in scope, limited in scope," he reiterated. "That is the usual process. My folks have assured me that the usual process was followed."

Democratic lawmakers also raised the issue of the FBI's credibility, citing President Donald Trump's charge last year that there were "several rotten apples" among the agency's leadership.

"Do you agree with the president that there are 'rotten apples' within in the bureau's senior leadership?" Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) asked the FBI chief.

"Senator, I can only tell you about the FBI I see, which is people of great courage, integrity and professionalism," Wray replied. "They are extraordinary people that this committee and all Americans should be proud of."

After reviewing the FBI's findings in the Kavanaugh probe, the Senate confirmed the 53-year-old judge to the high court Saturday in a 50-48 vote.

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