James Comey says the FBI's 7-day Kavanaugh assault probe won't be 'as hard as Republicans hope it will be'

Brett Kavanaugh.
(Image credit: Jim Bourg-Pool/Getty Images)

The FBI's Hillary Clinton email investigation, which roiled and possibly tipped the 2016 presidential campaign, now seems like "the good old days," former FBI Director James Comey writes in a Sunday New York Times op-ed. In the even angrier and more polarized world we inhabit now, President Trump ordered the FBI to spend a week investigating sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

This is a tall order, a seven-day investigation of "sexual assaults that the president says never happened, that some senators have decried as a sham cooked up to derail a Supreme Court nominee, and that other senators believe beyond all doubt were committed by the nominee," Comey writes. But "although the process is deeply flawed, and apparently designed to thwart the fact-gathering process, the FBI is up for this."

It's not as hard as Republicans hope it will be. FBI agents are experts at interviewing people and ... unless limited in some way by the Trump administration, they can speak to scores of people in a few days. ... Yes, the alleged incident occurred 36 years ago. But FBI agents know time has very little to do with memory. They know every married person remembers the weather on their wedding day, no matter how long ago. Significance drives memory. They also know that little lies point to bigger lies. They know that obvious lies by the nominee about the meaning of words in a yearbook are a flashing signal to dig deeper. [James Comey, The New York Times]

Putting "a shot clock on the FBI" is "idiotic," but "it is better to give professionals seven days to find facts than have no professional investigation at all," Comey writes. One side, or both, will be unhappy with whatever the FBI finds, but "there is freedom in being totally screwed. Agents can just do their work. Find facts. Speak truth to power." Read the entire op-ed at The New York Times.

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