DENVER – The FBI has contacted the Colorado woman who accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, less than a day after President Donald Trump ordered a new background investigation of the Supreme Court nominee, according to one of the attorneys representing her in the case.
In a statement sent to Denver7, John Clune confirmed the FBI had reached out to Boulder resident Deborah Ramirez, saying in part, "We can confirm the FBI has reached out to interview Ms. Ramirez and she has agreed to cooperate with their investigation."
Clune said they would not be providing further comment on the matter.
The Washington Post was the first to report the latest development, saying it was not clear that agents had yet interviewed Ramirez.
While the precise scope of the investigation remained unclear, Trump told reporters Saturday that “the FBI, as you know, is all over talking to everybody” and said “this could be a blessing in disguise.”
“They have free rein. They’re going to do whatever they have to do, whatever it is they do. They’ll be doing things that we have never even thought of,” he said. “And hopefully at the conclusion everything will be fine.”
Kavanaugh’s high school friend Mark Judge, who Dr. Christine Blasey Ford says was in the room when a drunken Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her, said that he will cooperate with any law enforcement agency that will “confidentially investigate” sexual misconduct allegations against him and Kavanaugh. Judge has also denied Ford’s allegations.
Lawyers for P.J. Smyth and Leland Ingham Keyser, two others who Ford said were in the house when she was attacked, have said their clients are willing to cooperate “fully” with the FBI’s investigation, according to the AP.
A third woman, Julie Swetnick, accused Kavanaugh and Judge of excessive drinking and inappropriate treatment of women in the early 1980s, among other accusations. Kavanaugh has called her accusations a “joke” and Judge has said he “categorically” denies the allegations.
Swetnick’s attorney, Michael Avenatti, said Saturday afternoon that his client had not been contacted by the FBI but is willing to fully cooperate with investigators, the AP reports.
Colorado woman is second Kavanaugh accuser
Ramirez said in an interview published last Sunday by The New Yorker that Kavanaugh thrust his penis in her face, causing her to touch it without her consent at a party where she had been drinking and become disoriented. The events unfolded at Yale University when they were both students during the 1983-84 school year.
According to The New Yorker, Ramirez was initially reluctant to talk publicly about the alleged misconduct because she could not recall the entire incident. But she said she spent six days “assessing her memories and consulting with” former Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett, a Democrat, whom she hired to serve as her counsel in the case, before deciding to go public.
After learning of the allegations made by Ramirez, Kavanaugh released a statement saying, “This alleged event from 35 years ago did not happen. The people who knew me then know that this did not happen, and have said so. This is a smear, plain and simple.”
Trump directs FBI to conduct new investigation, but scope still unclear
Trump, under pressure from members of his own party, directed the FBI to renew an investigation into Kavanaugh’s background on Friday after Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, sided with Democrats who had asked the FBI to look into allegations that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted Ford when the two were teenagers in Maryland.
"I've ordered the FBI to conduct a supplemental investigation to update Judge Kavanaugh's file. As the Senate has requested, this update must be limited in scope and completed in less than one week," Trump said in a statement.
The FBI has not commented on the President's order, but a background investigation for a presidential appointee, like Kavanaugh, would also likely have a layer of oversight from the highest levels of the FBI's headquarters in Washington, and senior agents could be brought in to bolster the background investigation squad for the most sensitive interviews, former agents told CNN.
Given the unprecedented situation, the FBI could also employ novel tools, or create a "special" investigative team that exists across agency divisions, the former officials said.
While background checks typically take days of on-the-ground investigation, in a case this closely scrutinized, FBI leaders could decide to go full bore, assigning a slew of agents from multiple squads to wrap the probe in short time.
"They could just about drop everything else they're doing, every other background check for generals to get the next star, and cabinet secretaries and US attorneys," said Tom Fuentes, a former FBI assistant director and senior CNN law enforcement analyst. "They could wrap everything. If they want to put 500 agents on this tomorrow they could do that."
The scope of the investigation that FBI agents will undertake now is unclear.
FBI officials will likely try to question some or all of the potential witnesses, in addition to Ford and Kavanaugh. The FBI, however, cannot force interviews in background check investigations, or in criminal investigations for that matter. While witnesses in a criminal case can be subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury, witnesses to a background investigation don't face a similar law enforcement tool to get them to talk.
CNN and the Associated Press contributed to this report.