The Senate Judiciary Committee will ask the White House for an FBI probe into “current credible allegations” of sexual assault against Brett Kavanaugh, it was announced Friday.
The Committee voted eleven to ten along party lines Friday to advance the Supreme Court nominee to a vote on the Senate floor, but agreed to delay that final vote until the FBI completes an investigation not to extend past October 5. Retiring Republican senator Jeff Flake, a frequent critic of President Trump, voted to send the nomination out of committee, but requested the one-week delay for an investigation in return.
“I think it would be proper to delay the floor vote for up to but not more than one week,” Flake said. “This country is being ripped apart here.”
Flake’s surprise move came after two protesters blocked his elevator as he walked to the Judiciary Committee’s hearing room. When one told Flake that by supporting Kavanaugh was saying Ford’s alleged assault did not matter, the senator nodded sympathetically.
Kavanaugh has fiercely denied accusations that he forced himself on California psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford at a party when they were both in high school. Ford testified to Congress on Thursday that when she was 15 and Kavanaugh was 17, he pinned her to a bed, covered her mouth, and tried to remove her clothing before she was able to escape.
Republican senator Lisa Murkowski and Democratic senator Joe Manchin indicated they would not vote yes on Kavanaugh’s confirmation until the FBI completed a probe into the allegations.
Committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) has said he will back the senators’ request for an investigation. The final responsibility for ordering one will rest with President Trump, who has indicated he will do whatever Senate Republicans ask.