The FBI is well-suited to dig into allegations of sexual assault leveled by multiple women against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, former bureau Director James Comey wrote in an op-ed published Sunday night, even on the abbreviated schedule outlined by Senate Republicans.
Comey, whose op-ed appeared in Monday’s print edition of The New York Times, said that that “if truth were the only goal, there would be no clock, and the investigation wouldn’t have been sought after the Senate Judiciary Committee already endorsed the nominee.”
“Instead, it seems that the Republican goal is to be able to say there was an investigation and it didn’t change their view, while the Democrats hope for incriminating evidence to derail the nominee,” the former FBI director continued. “Although the process is deeply flawed, and apparently designed to thwart the fact-gathering process, the F.B.I. is up for this. It’s not as hard as Republicans hope it will be.”
Comey served as FBI director frmo 2013 until May, 2017, when he was fired by President Donald Trump, a step the president later said he took with the bureau’s Russia investigation weighing on his mind. Comey has been openly critical of the president since his firing, including in a book published earlier this year.
It was Comey’s firing that prompted deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to appoint special counsel Robert Mueller to oversee the Russia investigation, a point of public consternation for the president.
The FBI, now led by Director Christopher Wray, is in the midst of a one-week investigation of the sexual assault claims against Kavanaugh, forced by Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who agreed to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination out of the Senate Judiciary Committee only after insisting that the bureau further probe the allegations against him. Flake, along with Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), is seen as a key swing vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
Prompted by Flake’s request, the White House has ordered the FBI to probe the accusations against Kavanaugh, including those brought by Christine Blasey Ford, who alleges that the Supreme Court nominee drunkenly pinned her to a bed and groped her when they were in high school. Both Kavanaugh and Ford testified about the allegations at a hearing last week before the Senate Judiciary Committee, with Kavanaugh adamantly denying the accusations against him.
Comey, in his op-ed, argued that although the alleged assault occurred 36 years ago, “FBI agents know time has very little to do with memory,” casting doubt onto Kavanaugh’s testimony.
“They know every married person remembers the weather on their wedding day, no matter how long ago,” the former FBI director wrote. “Significance drives memory.They also know that little lies point to bigger lies. They know that obvious lies by the nominee about the meaning of words in a yearbook are a flashing signal to dig deeper.”
In addition, Comey said that witnesses will know “the consequences” once they are interviewed by the FBI.
“It is one thing to have your lawyer submit a statement on your behalf. It is a very different thing to sit across from two F.B.I. special agents and answer their relentless questions,” he wrote. “Of course, the bureau won’t have subpoena power, only the ability to knock on doors and ask questions. But most people will speak to them. Refusal to do so is its own kind of statement.”