RSN Fundraising Banner
Kavanaugh Confirmation Hits Major Snag After Jeff Flake Seeks FBI Probe
Friday, 28 September 2018 13:08

Excerpt: "Sen. Jeff Flake said he will vote to advance Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court with the understanding that the sexual assault accusation against him will be investigated by the FBI."

Senator Jeff Flake. (photo: Getty)
Senator Jeff Flake. (photo: Getty)

Kavanaugh Confirmation Hits Major Snag After Jeff Flake Seeks FBI Probe

By Elana Schor and Burgess Everett, Politico

28 September 18

Republicans were on course to take the judge's high court nomination to the Senate floor as soon as this weekend.

UPDATE 2:01 p.m.:

Sen. Jeff Flake said he will vote to advance Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court with the understanding that the sexual assault accusation against him will be investigated by the FBI.

I think it would be proper to delay the floor vote for up to but not more than one week in order to let the FBI do an investigation limited in time and scope,” Flake said on Friday afternoon, just hours after announcing he would support Kavanaugh.

rett Kavanaugh is closer than ever to the Supreme Court as the Senate Judiciary Committee prepares to advance him to the Senate floor, even as his path to confirmation narrows with multiple Democrats coming out against him.

Soon after swing-vote Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) announced his support, effectively ensuring Kavanaugh gets a favorable vote in the Judiciary panel on Friday, Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) said he opposes the nomination. With Kavanaugh still short of 50 votes, that leaves just two moderate Republicans and two moderate Democrats still undecided.

Donnelly called the sexual assault allegation against Kavanaugh "disturbing and credible" and called for an FBI investigation that Republicans are not calling for.

“While I would gladly welcome the opportunity to work with President Trump on a new nominee for this critically important position, if Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination comes before the full Senate for a vote under these circumstances, I will oppose it," Donnelly said.

The 53-year-old appeals court judge delivered an emotional and defiant defense amid sexual misconduct allegations on Thursday, a showing that successfully rallied many Republicans behind him. Kavanaugh's next test comes in the Judiciary panel, though Flake's public support all but ensures the judge will sail to the floor with a positive recommendation.

“I left the hearing yesterday with as much doubt as certainty," Flake said in a statement on his support for Kavanaugh after indicating Thursday night that he was wrestling with whether to believe the judge or Christine Blasey Ford. "What I do know is that our system of justice affords a presumption of innocence to the accused, absent corroborating evidence."

Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) scheduled a final Kavanaugh vote for Friday afternoon, but not before a group of House Democratic women staged a symbolic protest and walked out of the hearing room. And Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the committee’s top Democrat, decried Kavanaugh’s public anger toward her party during Thursday’s hearing.

"I have never seen a nominee for any position behave in that manner," Feinstein said Friday morning. "Judge Kavanaugh used as much political rhetoric as my Republican colleagues — and what's more, he went on the attack."

As the committee prepared to vote, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) – who could become chairman of the panel next year, if the GOP keeps control of the Senate, declared that his party would not let allegations such as Ford’s come out through the media before the chamber can investigate.

“We’re not going to let this happen again,” vowed Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. “You will bring it to the committee, not the Washington Post.”

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) pointed out that a calendar Kavanaugh provided to the committee to bolster his innocence of Ford’s allegation includes an entry for a social gathering with two individuals Ford has said were at the party where she was assaulted. But Democrats largely did not pursue that line of questioning with Kavanaugh on Thursday, instead focusing on Kavanaugh’s past drinking habits and his lack of interest in an FBI investigation of Ford’s claim.

Shortly after Flake issued his statement, he was confronted by female protesters who asked him how he could support Kavanaugh after the wrenching testimony of the day before.

As he tried to ride the elevator to the Senate Judiciary Committee meeting, Flake mostly nodded and stayed silent as the women urged him to not vote for Kavanaugh.

“You have power when so many women are powerless,” one of the women said.

Republicans are now on course to take the judge's high court nomination to the Senate floor as soon as this weekend. The “yes” vote from Flake ensures that senators can vote on Kavanaugh with an endorsement that now-Justice Clarence Thomas did not receive in 1991 after sexual harassment allegations against him from Anita Hill — despite memorable testimony Thursday by Ford, Kavanaugh's initial misconduct accuser.

Ford's testimony nonetheless has begun pushing red- and purple-state Democratic senators off the fence on the nomination. Sens. Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) all announced their opposition to Kavanaugh in the hours after Ford's testimony, although the GOP did not consider any Democrat a legitimately swayable vote in the end.

One Democrat the GOP is heavily courting, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin huddled with Flake and undecided Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska on Thursday night before a private meeting of majority-party senators on the nomination. Donnelly did not attend that meeting.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) is also publicly undecided. Heitkamp’s reelection campaign has taken aim at her challenger Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) for his comments on the allegation against Kavanaugh as she fights for her political life, but Democratic sources see her as a genuine toss-up.

Once the Judiciary panel finishes processing Kavanaugh's nomination on Friday, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is expected to tee up a procedural vote on Saturday and another one on Monday to line up a final vote as soon as Tuesday.

GOP leaders seemed increasingly confident that moderates Collins and Murkowski will come around to Kavanaugh on the floor.

"There are some people who haven't stated their intentions," said Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 3 GOP senator. "If this is a process based on facts and evidence and truth it's hard to feature how people could come to the conclusion based upon his emphatic denial and the absence of any absence to contrary, that he wouldn't be supported and confirmed."

Saturday's vote may not indicate whether Kavanaugh will be confirmed. Historically, Murkowski and Collins generally believe nominees should be advanced to a final vote on the Senate floor.

Email This Page your social media marketing partner
Last Updated on Friday, 28 September 2018 14:03