The FBI will not interview Julie Swetnick, the third woman to accuse Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, according to multiple reports and Republican senator Lindsey Graham, highlighting the narrow scope of the agency’s supplemental investigation into Donald Trump’s supreme court nominee.
Following reports by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal the White House, which has stood by Kavanaugh throughout the fallout from an explosive Senate hearing on Thursday, denies it was limiting the range of the investigation.
On Saturday night Donald Trump said on Twitter he wanted the FBI “to interview whoever they deem appropriate, at their discretion”.
On Sunday Kellyanne Conway, a senior Trump counselor, told CNN’s State of the Union: “We trust the hardworking men and women of the FBI to do their jobs, and they will determine what will be included within that scope.”
Conway also revealed that she had been a victim of sexual assault.
“I feel very empathetic, frankly, for victims of sexual assault and sexual harassment and rape … I’m a victim of sexual assault,” she said.
Swetnick, and two other women, Dr Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez, have accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct during his high school and college years in the early 1980s.
Ramirez, who says Kavanaugh exposed his genitals to her while they were at Yale, is among four witnesses expected to be interviewed by the FBI in an investigation, commissioned by Trump after an intervention from Arizona Republican senator Jeff Flake, that is set to last less than a week.
The others, the New York Times reported, are Kavanaugh’s friend Mark Judge and Leland Keyser and PJ Smyth, also said to have been at the party at which Ford says Kavanaugh assaulted her.
Kavanaugh, 53, denies all allegations against him.
Swetnick has claimed, in a sworn statement, that Kavanaugh and Judge engaged in lewd behavior with young women at high school parties, and alleged the two placed drugs or alcohol in punch in order to inebriate women so they could be “gang raped” by other partygoers. Judge, who Ford says was present during her alleged assault, has denied all claims against him.
On Sunday, Swetnick’s attorney, Michael Avenatti, wrote on Twitter that he was “still waiting for the FBI to contact me or my client”. Avenatti also represents Stormy Daniels, the adult film actor and director who says she had a sexual affair with Trump, a claim the president denies.
Democrats urged the FBI to investigate Swetnick’s claims and voiced concern that the White House may be narrowing the scope of its work.
“I’m very concerned about this because the White House should not be allowed to micromanage an FBI investigation,” Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who sits on the judiciary committee, told CNN.
She added: “I think she [Swetnick] has to be interviewed by the FBI. I haven’t met her. I believe in due process, she did sign an affidavit.”
Conway and press secretary Sarah Sanders, who appeared on Fox News Sunday, both insisted the White House was not micro-managing the investigation. But Graham appeared to confirm that Swetnick would not be questioned by the FBI.
“I think the allegation that she makes is outrageous and not one Democrat mentioned it,” he told ABC’s This Week.
“But Mark Judge, who is named by Ms Swetnick as being part of a gang rape and drugging women, will be asked did he ever see it happen. Or did he see Kavanaugh engage in it?”