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President Donald Trump listens to Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her more than 30 years ago, has ruled out appearing at a Senate hearing on Monday, insisting that the F.B.I. should investigate first.

The bottom line: Neither Ford or the Senate has the authority to make such request, according to NBC News' Pete Williams and Ken Dilanian. They explain that only the White House can ask the bureau to launch an FBI investigation.

How the process works: Current and former Justice Department and FBI officials told NBC News that the agency cannot investigate whether or not Ford’s claims are true — unless the White House requests it.

  • The agency performs background checks for federal nominees, the AP explains citing a Justice Department official, but "does not make judgments on the credibility or significance of allegations."
  • When the FBI conducts a background investigation prior to an official’s confirmation, agents can only gather information from interviews and pass it along. Officials said this has been a longstanding practice.
  • If Ford's allegations are true, there's no suggestion of a federal crime, per NBC. Therefore, the FBI cannot independently decide to open a criminal probe. Senate Democrats, however, are pushing the agency to reopen the background investigation in to Kavanaugh, per the AP.
  • Kavanaugh denies the allegations, which appear to be misdemeanors, and are beyond the statute of limitations under Maryland law.

Greg Rinckey, a lawyer specializing in employment law and the security clearance process, told the AP that the FBI does not use background checks to look into decades-old claims that never resulted in criminal charges or filed in a police report.

"The FBI is looking for any kind of current problem. What do I mean by current — 7 to 10 years."
— Rinckey said.

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Health

FDA authorizes mix-and-match for COVID booster shots

Photo: Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) on Wednesday gave its approval for Americans to get booster shots that are different from the COVID vaccine they initially received.

Why it matters: The recommendation from the FDA, which also authorized booster shots for people who received Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines on Wednesday, paves the way for an expansion of booster shots.

GOP congressman forfeits committee seats after indictment

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) on Wednesday stepped down from his committee assignments after being indicted for lying to federal investigators amid a probe into illegal campaign donations.

What they're saying: In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Fortenberry said he is "grateful for the outpouring of support from my friends and colleagues as we work against the injustice confronting me."

Rahm Emanuel questioned on murder of Laquan McDonald in confirmation hearing

Rahm Emanuel during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing on Oct. 20. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel spoke about the murder of Laquan McDonald during his Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday to become the U.S. ambassador to Japan, saying that "there's not a day or a week that has gone by in the last seven years I haven't thought about this."

Catch up quick: McDonald was a Black teenager who was fatally shot 16 times by Chicago police during Emanuel's tenure as the city's mayor. The 2014 shooting triggered massive protests, both because of its nature and the fact that the officers' body-cam footage was concealed for years.

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