Senate Judiciary Sends Brett Kavanaugh Confirmation to Full Senate While Calling for FBI Investigation

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted to recommend Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court on Friday afternoon and also called for an FBI investigation into the sexual assault claims against him.

In the 11-10 vote, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) explained that while he voted to advance Kavanaugh's nomination to a full Senate vote, he did so with the request that said floor vote be delayed for up to a week while the FBI conducts an investigation into the sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh.

In order to get the ball rolling, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would have to agree to ask the White House to demand an FBI investigation. It's unclear if he would be willing to do so.

Shortly after he announced he would vote in favor of confirming Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court on Friday morning, Flake was cornered in an elevator by a sexual assault survivor who pleaded with him to change his vote. The entire incident was filmed, making waves on social media and in the news.

After he was approached by the survivor, and just before voting yes this afternoon, Flake said, "I think it would be proper to delay the floor vote for up to buy not more than one week in order to let the FBI do an investigation limited in time and scope to the current allegations. And I will vote to advance the bill to the floor with that understanding."

He spoke for a few minutes to explain what he was trying to accomplish: "I'm simply stating the discussion that we had between us all is that I would hope and I think we had some agreement before that the Democrats who have been — I think — justifiably uncomfortable moving ahead, could publicly, in an effort to bring this country together, say that we would feel better.... I'm not expecting them to vote yes... but not to complain that an FBI investigation has not occurred. This is what I'm trying to do. This country is being ripped apart here. We've got to make sure that we do due diligence."

The vote recommending that Kavanaugh be voted into the Supreme Court followed a crucial meeting from the Republican-led committee that debated and then voted on wherever to advance the nomination to the full Senate.

Depending on what happens now that Flake has recommended an FBI investigation, a final vote in the full Senate to most likely solidify Kavanaugh's position as a Supreme Court Justice could come as early as next week.

Friday's vote came a day after testimony from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford about Kavanaugh, who she claims sexually assaulted her in high school. Kavanaugh has denied any Ford's claims as well as claims from two other women.

"I never had any sexual or physical encounter of any kind with Dr. Ford," Kavanaugh said Thursday. Meanwhile, Ford said during her testimony earlier that day that she was "100 percent" sure Kavanaugh assaulted her.

Following Friday's vote, had Flake not proposed an FBI investigation, the likely next steps would be that a procedural vote would begin debate in the Senate. Assuming there would be a filibuster on the upcoming full Senate vote, the Senate would vote to overcome the filibuster, which only requires a simple majority of the Republican-led Senate. If the filibuster were overturned, the confirmation vote would likely occur soon after. However, now that Flake has suggested an investigation, it's not immediately clear how the confirmation will proceed.

The Senate Judiciary Committee consisted of 21 members: 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats.

Earlier in the day, Flake released a statement confirming that he would vote in support of Kavanaugh on Friday. "After hearing more than 30 hours of testimony from Judge Kavanaugh earlier this month, I was prepared to support his nomiatnio based on his view of the law and his record as a judge. In fact, I commented at the time that had he been nominated in another era, he would have likely received 90+ votes," Flake said in the statement.

"When Dr. Ford's allegations against Judge Kavanaugh surfaced two weeks ago, I insisted that she be allowed to testify before the committee moved to a vote. Yesterday, we heard compelling testimony from Dr. Ford, as well as a persuasive response from Judge Kavanaugh. I wish that I could express the confidence that some of my colleagues have conveyed about what either did or did not happen in the early 1980s, but I left the hearing yesterday with as much doubt as certainty," he continued.

"What I do know is that our system of justice afford a presumption of innocence to the accused absent corroborating evidence. That is what binds us to the rule of the law. While some may argue that a different standard should apply regarding the Senate's advice and consent responsibilities, I believe that the constitution's provisions of fairness and due process apply here as well," he said.

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"I will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh," Flake concluded.

Photo credit: Chip Somodevilla / Staff