Trump changes course
President Donald Trump ordered a limited, week-long FBI probe of the allegations against his Supreme Court pick, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, at the request of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday. It was a 180-degree turn from his previous statements about making such a move.
After the initial accusations against Kavanaugh from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford emerged nearly two weeks ago, the White House touted what was described as a “very thorough” background check process by the FBI, citing the six previous pristine investigations as evidence the confirmation process should move ahead. And asked multiple times whether he would order the FBI to reopen its investigation, Trump suggested that the FBI “doesn’t do that.”
But on Friday, amid threats by key Republican Sen. Jeff Flake and growing uncertainty that Kavanaugh would have enough votes for confirmation, the Senate stalled the process to allow a probe into the allegations. Following the committee’s vote, Trump cast a more deferential tone.
“I will be totally reliant on what Sen. [Chuck] Grassley and the group decides to do,” he said of an additional investigation Friday during an Oval Office meeting with the Chilean President.
“Whatever they think is necessary is OK,” he added, ordering the investigation hours later.
Here are some of the times Trump has discussed Kavanaugh’s FBI investigation process since the allegations surfaced:
Wednesday Press Conference: ‘a very thorough investigation’
Earlier this week, Trump held a wide-ranging press conference at the United Nations, rigorously defending his Supreme Court nominee.
He argued that the FBI had “nothing to investigate.”
“Well, the FBI told us they’ve investigated Judge Kavanaugh six times, five times, many times over the years. They know him very well. But here, there was nothing to investigate from at least one standpoint. They didn’t know the location. They didn’t know the time. They didn’t know the year. They didn’t know anything. And it’s like, where do you go?” he said in New York.
He pivoted to blaming Democrats for what he described as “a big con job.”
“The FBI, as you know, did investigate this time, as they have five or six other times. And they did a very thorough investigation. But this is a big con job. And I would love to be in the room with the Democrats, close the door — you guys are all away, outside, waiting. And Schumer and his buddies are all in there laughing how they fooled you all.”
Last Wednesday: ‘They would if you asked them to’
As the President prepared to depart the White House to tour storm damage in the Carolinas, he was asked by reporters why he would not call for an FBI investigation into the allegations.
“Well, it would seem that the FBI really doesn’t do that. They’ve investigated about six times before, and it seems that they don’t do that,” he said.
The President does, in fact, have the power to order an FBI investigation of this nature.
“They would do it if you asked them to, Mr. President. They will do it if you ask them to. Will you be considering asking them to?” a reporter asked.
Trump responded that he would “let the senators do it instead,” a process that played out this week and ultimately led to Friday’s change of heart.
“I would let the senators take their course. Let the senators do it. They’re doing a very good job. They’ve given tremendous amounts of time. They’ve already postponed a major hearing. And, really, they’re hurting somebody’s life very badly,” he said.
Last Tuesday: ‘Not really their thing’
Trump suggested last week during an Oval Office meeting with the Polish President that the FBI does not want to be involved with investigating allegations against Kavanaugh, even though they had previously completed six background checks.
“I don’t think the FBI really should be involved because they don’t wanna be involved. If they wanted to be than I would certainly do that, but as you know they say this is not really their thing,” he said.
Later that day during a press conference, he reiterated that it’s “not what they do.”
Asked if he would support the FBI reopening the background investigation into Kavanaugh, he said, “It wouldn’t bother me, other than the FBI, Jon, said that they really don’t do that; that’s not what they do. Now, they have done, supposedly, six background checks over the years, as Judge Kavanaugh has gone beautifully up a ladder. He’s an incredible individual. Great intellect, great judge. Impeccable history in every way — in every way.”
Last Monday: ‘Never even had a little blemish’
Trump first addressed the allegations against Kavanaugh during an event for the National Council for the American Worker, arguing that the six completed background checks were proof that his record was blemish-free.
“He’s an outstanding intellect. An outstanding judge. Respected by everybody. Never even had a little blemish on his record. The FBI has I think gone through a process six times with him over the years where he went to higher and higher positions. He is somebody very special,” Trump said.
But he expressed openness to going through a process in the wake of the allegations.
“At the same time, we want to go through a process. We want to make sure everything is perfect, everything is just right,” he said.