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CNN Analyst to Dems Seeking Another FBI Probe Into Kavanaugh: ‘I Don’t Want Politicians Telling Investigators What to Do’

• September 20, 2018 12:42 pm

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Senate Democrats would be wrong to force the FBI to re-open an investigation into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, counterterrorism analyst Phil Mudd told a CNN panel Thursday morning.

Appearing on CNN’s New Day, Mudd insisted investigators should be left to conduct their own work. He warned against politicians "direct[ing] the Department of Justice and the FBI about what to investigate."

Mudd was the deputy director of the FBI’s National Security Branch from 2005 to 2010.

The question of re-opening the background check arose after Christine Blasey Ford claimed in a letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) that Kavanaugh "physically pushed" and "tried to disrobe" her while they were high school students in the early 1980s. Ford has called for the FBI to investigate her allegation before she agrees to testify before the Senate, a call that has been backed by many Democrats. 

Kavanaugh has categorically denied the allegations.

Republicans delayed a committee vote on Kavanaugh's confirmation, which was scheduled for Thursday, and invited Ford to testify on Monday. They have said it is the responsibility of the Senate, not the FBI, to ascertain the accuracy of Ford's allegation, a point Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) made in a letter urging Ford to testify.

"I certainly understand and respect Dr. Ford’s desire for an investigation of her allegations," Grassley wrote. "That is precisely what the Senate is doing."

A classmate of Ford’s claimed Wednesday that she recalled hearing about the incident back in the early 1980s, saying "it did happen." She recanted her claim in a NPR interview Thursday, saying she had "no idea" whether or not it happened.

The classmate’s initial statement seemed at odds with Ford’s claim that for decades she kept the allegation a secret, only first disclosing it in 2012.

CNN "New Day" host Alisyn Camerota pressed Mudd, wondering if the FBI might pursue Kavanaugh unprompted. "Okay. Fair enough. Can the FBI on their own re-open a background information with these new allegations?" she asked.

"I presume they can," Mudd replied, "but we are avoiding the real question here, Alisyn." Mudd warned that the allegations were But if they re-open it, this is 36 years ago and there's an allegation of sexual assault by three people who are between the ages of 15 and 17 or 18, at a party where presumably beer was served. we will never to the facts of what happened there, I think that’s the bottom line here."

Some experts have pointed out FBI investigations in the case of Supreme Court nominees operate differently than typical investigations. The FBI can open criminal investigations on its own if it believes someone has or is going to violate federal law. The Justice Department has already said Ford's allegation doesn’t involve a potential federal crime. In the case of a background investigation for a Supreme Court nominee, it is conducted to provide information for the White House, Ron Hosko, former assistant director of the FBI’s criminal investigative division, told the Wall Street Journal. Typically those investigations begin with the nominee's adult life.

The FBI has already conducted six investigations into Kavanaugh’s past, without any public finding.

Mudd is hardly a fan of the president. He has been fiercely critical of President Donald Trump, including over the administration pulling former intelligence officials’ security clearances. He screamed at former George W. Bush staffer Paris Dennard about the same during a CNN appearance.

That exchange provoked a tweet from Trump:

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1031724100719403009

Mudd’s critique of Senate Democrats fits with his prior opposition to political interference with the work of intelligence community members.

Mudd said on CNN in 2017 that Rep. Trey Gowdy (R., S.C.) should "have his ass kicked" for his exchange with former CIA Director John Brennan about whether intelligence constitutes evidence.

Published under: Brett Kavanaugh, CNN