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Trump Gets Caught Obstructing Justice, Gives FBI Free Rein

Ever since it was announced that the FBI would do a further investigation of Brett Kavanaugh it has been difficult to figure out the exact scope of that investigation. And the events that unfolded last night made the situation even more confusing.

It started yesterday afternoon with an NBC News story saying that Trump had ordered the FBI to severely limit the scope of its investigation.

They tweeted:

“The FBI has not been permitted to investigate the claims of Julie Swetnick, who has accused Judge Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, a White House official confirmed to NBC News.”

After that, Swetnick’s attorney Michael Avenatti hit the roof, tweeting:

If true, this is outrageous. Why are Trump and his cronies in the Senate trying to prevent the American people from learning the truth? Why do they insist on muzzling women with information submitted under penalty of perjury? Why Ramirez but not my client?”

Needless to say, the NBC reporting caused a stir on social media, and millions of people were outraged.

Then, late in the evening, after his rally in West Virginia concluded, Donald Trump posted the following tweet, saying that NBC was wrong in their reporting:

NBC News incorrectly reported (as usual) that I was limiting the FBI investigation of Judge Kavanaugh, and witnesses, only to certain people. Actually, I want them to interview whoever they deem appropriate, at their discretion. Please correct your reporting!”

This created even more confusion because no more information was released by the White House explaining exactly what Trump meant by this tweet.

BREAKING NEWS: Caught Trying to Limit the FBI Investigation of Kavanaugh, Trump Reverses Himself and Blames NBC

Later in the evening we got more information in an updated article on the front page of the New York Times. The lead reporter, Michael Schmidt, tweeted:

NEW: FBI interview of Mark Judge will include questions about BOTH Swetnick and Blasey allegations.”

This seemed to confirm Trump’s tweet that the FBI investigation was not limited in scope. The Times article made two key points:

  • “The F.B.I. will interview four witnesses about sexual assault claims against Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh as part of a background check, not a full-fledged criminal investigation.”
  • “The White House will decide the breadth of the inquiry and can order further investigation based on the findings from the four interviews.”

To further clarify this point, former Associate White House Counsel Ian Bassin tweeted that the Trump tweet had the legal authority of a presidential order:

“Note to @FBI: whatever instructions White House staff gave you, the President’s tweet below is actually (no, really I’m not kidding) an order from the President. DOJ’s legal view is that a presidential order need not take any special form; if the president orders it, it counts.”

So it seems that the FBI will indeed sit down with Kavanuagh’s drinking buddy Mark Judge, put him under oath, and ask him some tough questions. It appears that they will grill him about the accusations made by both Christine Blasey Ford and Julie Swetnick.

It’s now early on Sunday, and we haven’t heard yet from the White House or from Michael Avenatti.

But it looks like Trump’s attempt to obstruct justice has failed. The FBI investigation will not be severely limited in scope, and this is bad news indeed for Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

Leo Vidal

I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.

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