NBC Worries FBI Inquiry Being ‘Rushed’; Suggests Kavanaugh Lied

In an interview with Republican Senator Jeff Flake and Democratic Senator Chris Coons on Wednesday’s Today show, co-host Savannah Guthrie feared that the FBI inquiry into allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was being “rushed” and even suggested that the federal judge may have lied under oath during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing a week earlier.

“Multiple news outlets, Senator Coons, are reporting that the FBI is very close to wrapping its investigation. In fact, it could wrap as early today. Does that strike you as sufficient time, or does that feel rushed?,” Guthrie fretted to the Delaware Democrat. Coons predictably agreed: “That would concern me.”

 

 

The NBC morning host then put the question to Flake:

As we understand it from the lawyers involved, so far there has been no FBI interview of either Dr. Ford, the accuser, or Judge Kavanaugh, the accused. Now, again, the investigation isn’t done, but would it concern you, Senator Flake, if the FBI came back and said, “You know, we didn’t need to talk to them. They gave their testimony”?  Would that, to you, be a comprehensive investigation, if talked to neither party involve?

Flake responded by pointing out what the actual purpose of the inquiry was: “Well, we have the statement Dr. Ford and then we have hours of testimony. So, frankly, when we talked about an FBI investigation, it was to follow up leads that might corroborate her account. So I’m not troubled by that...”

Unsatisfied with that answer, Guthrie took a different approach, suggesting Kavanaugh may have perjured himself: “Do you think, Senator Flake, that Judge Kavanaugh, now that you’ve had some time to think about it and obviously some various things have come forward of people that knew him, come forward in the media, do you think that Judge Kavanaugh was truthful and straightforward in all respects at the hearing before your committee?”

After Flake granted Kavanaugh “some leeway” for his tone in the hearing, Guthrie pressed:

But with regard to his drinking, in particular, you know, it seemed that he downplayed it somewhat. And then, of course, there have been people coming forward, suggesting that he did do more serious drinking than he communicated to the Committee. If that were the case, would you consider that to be a situation where he had not been truthful with the Committee?

Near the end of the segment, she finally managed to challenge Coons on how Democrats have handled the process:

Senator Coons, on the flip side of that question, a lot of people are thinking, “Wait a minute, now we’re getting into yearbook inscriptions, we’re getting into letters that an 18-year-old or 17-year-old kid wrote about his beach week. You know, give me a break.” Some people are thinking, “What? Is this really what we’re getting into? Is it really fair? Is it really relevant?” To which you would respond what?

In part, Coons replied: “The FBI isn’t gonna reach conclusions, they’re going to deliver facts us from further questioning then we, the Senate, are gonna have to make an ultimate decision.” Guthrie called him out:

But, I mean, in fairness, Senator Coons, you were already gonna vote against Judge Kavanaugh anyway. And you voted against Judge Gorsuch as well. So I’m sure some people might be sitting there going, “Well, wait a minute, you know, isn’t this exactly what’s wrong with the process in the first place, everybody’s voting along partisan lines.”

At least the anchor was able to eventually hit the Democrat with a couple hardball questions before time ran out.

Here is a full transcript of the October 3 interview:

7:06 AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Well, it was a deal between Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona and Democratic Senator Chris Coons that led us to this new FBI review. And the two join us from Washington now. Senators, good morning to you.

SEN. CHRIS COONS [D-DE]: Good morning, Savannah.

SEN. JEFF FLAKE [R-AZ]: Thank you.

GUTHRIE: I know you just heard what the President had to say about the accuser, Dr. Ford, last night. I’ll start with you, Senator Flake, what do you think of those remarks?

FLAKE: Well, there’s no time and no place for remarks like that. To discuss something this sensitive at a politic rally is just, it’s just not right. It just not right. I wish he hadn’t had done it. I just say it’s kind of appalling.

GUTHRIE: Multiple news outlets, Senator Coons, are reporting that the FBI is very close to wrapping its investigation. In fact, it could wrap as early today. Does that strike you as sufficient time, or does that feel rushed?

COONS: That would concern me. I hope the FBI’s been allowed follow all the reasonable leads from the credible allegations that were before the Committee last week. And I know that puts them under a lot of pressure, but they’ve got the resources to do it. Jeff and I came to an important agreement that it would be a one-week investigation and then leave it to the professionals at the FBI to decide exactly who they ought to interview and when th ought to deliver a final report to the Senate.

GUTHRIE: As we understand it from the lawyers involved, so far there has been no FBI interview of either Dr. Ford, the accuser, or Judge Kavanaugh, the accused. Now, again, the investigation isn’t done, but would it concern you, Senator Flake, if the FBI came back and said, “You know, we didn’t need to talk to them. They gave their testimony”?  Would that, to you, be a comprehensive investigation, if talked to neither party involve?

FLAKE: Well, we have the statement Dr. Ford and then we have hours of testimony. So, frankly, when we talked about an FBI investigation, it was to follow up leads that might corroborate her account. So I’m not troubled by that as much as if we came back and found out that the FBI only followed a couple of leads or interviewed just a couple of people. So I’m anxious to hear back from the FBI. As Chris said, this was supposed to be a week, I believe they can get it done in a week, and we’re anxious to see the report.

GUTHRIE: Do you think, Senator Flake, that Judge Kavanaugh, now that you’ve had some time to think about it and obviously some various things have come forward of people that knew him, come forward in the media, do you think that Judge Kavanaugh was truthful and straightforward in all respects at the hearing before your committee?

FLAKE: Well, he – you know, a lot of people were concerned about the tone that he used when he said what he said. My reaction was that’s probably how I would react if I felt that I was unjustly accused. Some of the comments were sharp, but – and more partisan than a lot of us would like to see. Having said that, we’ve seen a record that he’s had on the of court collegiality and working with other members. So – and I think you have to give some leeway for the charges that were coming against him and how he would feel.

GUTHRIE: Yeah, I mean, these are humans under tremendous pressure. But with regard to his drinking, in particular, you know, it seemed that he downplayed it somewhat. And then, of course, there have been people coming forward, suggesting that he did do more serious drinking than he communicated to the Committee. If that were the case, would you consider that to be a situation where he had not been truthful with the Committee?

FLAKE: Well, that’s obviously difficult to judge, what constitutes drinking in excess. I’m not sure how to quite judge that, especially for this Mormon. That’s a tough one for me to judge that. But obviously, if there are demonstrable lies, if something is blatantly – if he misled the Committee in that way, then that’s something that is not right and shouldn’t happen. Can’t happen. But we’ll have to look at what the FBI comes back with. I don’t want to prejudge what they’re doing.

GUTHRIE: Senator Coons, on the flip side of that question, a lot of people are thinking, “Wait a minute, now we’re getting into yearbook inscriptions, we’re getting into letters that an 18-year-old or 17-year-old kid wrote about his beach week. You know, give me a break.” Some people are thinking, “What? Is this really what we’re getting into? Is it really fair? Is it really relevant?” To which you would respond what?

COONS: Well, Savannah, when Dr. Ford came forward with what President Trump described as credible and compelling testimony, I thought, and my friend Jeff Flake though that, that deserved a brief, a week-long further investigation to show the victims of sexual assault in this country that we take that seriously and it’s worth investigating. I do think whether or not he testified truthfully to the Committee is a question before us. The FBI isn’t gonna reach conclusions, they’re going to deliver facts us from further questioning then we, the Senate, are gonna have to make an ultimate decision.

GUTHRIE: But Senator Coons, you are –

COONS: You know, Jeff’s a Republican, I’m a Democrat, I think it was important we worked together to accomplish that.

GUTHRIE: Yes, definitely. But, I mean, in fairness, Senator Coons, you were already gonna vote against Judge Kavanaugh anyway.

COONS: That’s right.

GUTHRIE: And you voted against Judge Gorsuch as well. So I’m sure some people might be sitting there going, “Well, wait a minute, you know, isn’t this exactly what’s wrong with the process in the first place, everybody’s voting along partisan lines.”

COONS: Savannah, I decided I was gonna vote against Judge Kavanaugh after days of interviews and after reviewing his speeches, his writings, and his opinions on the D.C. Circuit. I think he’s outside the legal mainstream. Jeff’s a conservative, he’d like a conservative on the court. I’m not, and I don’t agree with Judge Kavanaugh’s legal philosophy.

This second chapter in his confirmation hearing that was occasioned by Dr. Ford coming forward with these allegations has rocked the Senate, has divided us in a very significant way, and I think what Jeff did that was brave and worth positive regard was saying, “Let’s just pause for a week and give the FBI the opportunity to investigate this so that the Senate can make a decision based on a more shared set of facts. And I think that was a laudable thing that Jeff did.

FLAKE: Even if no votes are changed in the end, to have a pause here and to actually have an FBI investigation gives us all more confidence in the process, and that’s important. When we came into that committee hearing – or I’m sorry – the mark-up on Friday, and basically it was a food fight between the parties. Democrats wanting to walk out and not even vote. Republicans yelling at the Democrats, and we felt that we can do than this and that the country and the institutions of the Senate and the Court needed more than we were giving it. And so, that’s why we’re having this pause and this investigation, so hopefully we’ll come to a better place by the end of the week.

GUTHRIE: We’ll see what happens with the investigation. Senators, it’s good to have you with us together this morning, we appreciate it.

FLAKE: Thank you.

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