South Dakota Sen. Mike Rounds Discusses FBI Background Check On Kavanaugh
MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
So Democrats see this FBI report as incomplete. Republicans say on the contrary, and they have scheduled a final confirmation vote within the next 48 hours. Well, let's hear from one of those Republicans now, Senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota.
Senator Rounds, welcome.
MIKE ROUNDS: Thank you very much - appreciate the opportunity to visit.
KELLY: Let me start with a yes-or-no question. Do you believe what the FBI has produced represents a complete and thorough investigation?
ROUNDS: I do. It's simply the next step. There's been six earlier ones. This is the seventh in this particular case. They went back in. We didn't tie their hands. We just simply said, you go back, and do the supplemental based on what a group of Republicans who had concerns and expressed that they wanted to learn more about. They talked about the specific incident itself and about other allegations. They went through and listed those out. They actually interviewed I believe 10 individuals and made 11 reports.
KELLY: OK, that - you're adding to our information there 'cause my information was that they had interviewed nine individuals. So if you've...
ROUNDS: Yeah, I've...
KELLY: ...Seen it, maybe they're up to 10, OK.
ROUNDS: I think it was 10 total. Well, I should - they contacted 10 individuals. Nine individuals participated. One declined to participate, didn't want to participate.
KELLY: Let me ask you about two people who they did not interview because this is raising a lot of questions for Democrats. They didn't interview Brett Kavanaugh or Christine Blasey Ford.
ROUNDS: Well, that's because they both went through literally hours and hours of testimony before the judiciary committee. Both of them have actually had reviews before. And so the FBI had their choice as to who they wanted to interview and when. And they decided not to interview either one, didn't feel that they needed to interview either one. However, both were allowed, if they wanted to, to offer additional supplemental information. No one stopped them from doing any supplement that they wanted to offer.
KELLY: Let me put to you a point, though, made by one of your colleagues in the Senate, Dianne Feinstein, who is of course the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee. She spoke to reporters this morning. Here's what she said.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
DIANNE FEINSTEIN: It's simply not credible to say that public testimony in last week's hearing is a substitute for interviews by FBI agents. Not only do senators lack the expertise of FBI agents. We were only given five minutes to question Judge Kavanaugh.
KELLY: Senator Rounds, does she have a point? Senators were only given five minutes to question Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford.
ROUNDS: That's five minutes per individual with a grand total of probably 11 on the Republican side and 10 on the Democrat side. And furthermore, all of them offered literally multiple opportunities to ask questions specifically of each of them. And I think in the case of Judge Kavanaugh, he literally responded to more questions in writing than any other Supreme Court justice in history. So (laughter)...
KELLY: Although a lot of new information has of course come to light since some of his written responses came in.
Let me ask you this basic question. How is it not in everyone's interest, especially Judge Kavanaugh's if he wants to clear his name, for the FBI to be given the space and time to run all credible current allegations to the ground?
ROUNDS: Basically the agreement was that we would take a week and that during that time, the FBI had full availability to do whatever they felt needed to be done. And that was being made at the request of a group of senators who still wanted more information. Most of the individuals who did not plan to vote are the ones that are saying delay it again. Look; let's be honest. This is a political maneuver on their part. The - look; the story behind this is the Senate is supposed to advise and consent. And in this particular case, there's strong feeling up here that Republicans - or that Democrats simply decided this was going to be a search-and-destroy mission from day one. And this...
KELLY: You're raising politics. And let me...
KELLY: ...Push you just on that in the moments we have left...
KELLY: ...Because Democrats....
ROUNDS: Their search didn't work.
KELLY: ...Would claim - absolutely they agree this is about politics. This is Republicans trying to get your guy confirmed before the midterm election.
ROUNDS: Oh, I think there's a lot of truth to that. We've said, number one, we would do it in normal order. We're up to I believe 91 days now. And the average is about 60. We're about three weeks past the normal for the last five United States Supreme Court justices.
KELLY: Senator Rounds, thanks so much.
ROUNDS: You bet.
KELLY: Mike Rounds of South Dakota. And we'll be speaking with a Democratic senator elsewhere in the program. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.