Senate Republican leadership will delay a vote on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation for a week and ask the FBI to investigate “credible allegations” against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
“The Senate Judiciary Committee will request that the administration instruct the FBI to conduct a supplemental FBI background investigation with respect to the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court,” Republicans on the Judiciary Committee announced in a statement. “The supplemental FBI background investigation would be limited to current credible allegations against the nominee and must be completed no later than one week from today.”
President Trump said in a statement, via White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, that he had “ordered the FBI to conduct a supplemental investigation to update Judge Kavanaugh’s file,” that per the Senate’s request, it would be “limited in scope and completed in less than one week.”
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who called for the weeklong delay and FBI probe, told reporters after the Judiciary Committee announcement that he’s happy with the deal reached.
“I think it says to everyone that we want a more fulsome process that the country can be proud of,” he said. “There’s lingering doubt out there among a lot of people that we haven’t taken every measure that we should to make sure that these allegations are dealt with. And so that’s what this effort is about.”
It’s not clear exactly what the scope of the FBI investigation will be and which of the current allegations against Kavanaugh — which now come from three women publicly on the record — it will include. Kavanaugh has denied vehemently all of the allegations.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), a member of the Judiciary Committee, told reporters that “presumably” the FBI will make the “determination” as to which “credible allegations” it will investigate, an understanding that Flake also backed.
The announcement of the delay was the climax of what had been a dramatic day in the an extremely tumultuous confirmation process. Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, the first woman to publicly accuse him of sexual misconduct, both testified in front of the Judiciary Committee Thursday.
In the hour before the Judiciary Committee was set to vote Friday on advancing Kavanaugh, Flake — who had already announced he was “yes” vote on confirming the judge — engaged in private discussions with Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) and other Democrats in a backroom next to the hearing room.
“What really I wanted to do is to meet with some of my Democratic colleagues and say, ‘What would cause you to say we have a better process? Not to say that you’ll vote for Judge Kavanaugh,’” Flake recalled to reporters later Friday.
Judiciary members of both parties shuffled in and out of the hearing room as the committee slipped past its plans to vote at 1:30 pm ET. About 20 minutes later, Flake announced he was seeking a delay in the floor vote to allow time for an FBI probe, even as he would vote to advance the nominee out of the committee. The committee quickly took a party line in favor of advancing Kavanaugh, and Judiciary Republicans rushed to McConnell’s office to discuss Flake’s proposal, where they were joined by Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).
Murkowski, after the announcement of the delay was made, said the agreement for the investigation showed that the “Senate is going to do its due diligence, as it needs to do”
As the Judiciary Republicans released their statement on the request for the FBI probe, Chair Chuch Grassley (R-IA) told reporters that he was pleased with the day’s outcome.
“We had a good day today by moving the nominee, a good day. We’re very happy with the progress we made,” he said.
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