Metaphorical heads were rolling in Washington D.C. Friday afternoon after Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) voted to advance Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination — while simultaneously recommending that the FBI conduct a thorough investigation into the sexual assault claims against Kavanaugh.
In all, Flake voted how he previously stated he would, sending the nomination to a full Senate vote — but surprised millions when he called for an investigation, something Republicans were against but that Democrats have been calling for for the past two weeks. If the FBI does investigate, the vote would likely be delayed a week, as opposed to taking place early next week as was previously anticipated before Flake's recommendation.
The unprecedented tactic confused political pundits just as much as it confused those watching the vote at home — and social media was no different. Many took to Twitter to wonder what in the world was going on.
I'm seeing a lot of white male reporters/pundits/etc confidently saying Sen. Jeff Flake is a 'no' vote. Maybe he is, but he definitely didn't commit to that and literally nothing in his record should give you confidence in him doing the right thing. //t.co/x69FwKysGF— Caroline O. (@RVAwonk) September 28, 2018
Asked if Republicans should honour Flake's demand, Lindsey Graham says, "Last time I looked, you need 50 votes." He adds: "Somebody's gotta explain this to Trump. I guess that'll be my job."— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) September 28, 2018
I want to know who gets to be the one to explain it to the FBI: "So, the Senate Judiciary Committee has opened an investigation for you, and also set the parameters for the investigation. You now report to Jeff Flake and Chris Coons." //t.co/35KCnm6Ln1— Seth Mandel (@SethAMandel) September 28, 2018
It seemed like Kavanaugh's nomination was back on track, but then Flake (R-AZ) changed his mind—sort of. He's letting Trump's pick proceed, but says he won't go any further unless the feds investigate the allegations //t.co/7ACnlWlcSV— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) September 28, 2018
Others complained that in essence, the decision to initiate an investigation lies with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who many believe will not ask the White House for the investigation. It remains unclear how McConnell will react.
In case you're confused, any hope of the Senate doing the right thing on Kavanaugh's confirmation vote relies on Mitch McConnell doing the right thing, which of course he won't.
And you can thank Sen. Jeff Flake for that, because he voted for it..— Caroline O. (@RVAwonk) September 28, 2018
Others were simply doubtful the investigation would uphold any justice.
Yes, Jeff Flake, I'm sure another week of this circus will definitely cool passions when next we take a vote.— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) September 28, 2018
To the sexual assault survivors who confronted Jeff Flake in the elevator today, thank you for your courage.
To @JeffFlake-I’m not gonna applaud you for saying you’ll do the right thing. But, I want to thank you for your pledge. Now let’s see if you actually deliver.— Scott Dworkin (@funder) September 28, 2018
Putting your faith in Jeff Flake for a floor vote is an exercise in futility. He’s waiting for the next opportunity to sell out the country for himself. There’s no more mercenary, selfish Senator in the Senate than Flake. He is just waiting to sell us all out again.— Dan Bongino (@dbongino) September 28, 2018
Still, others predicted that an investigation could turn up new evidence.
When strong senators really want something, they withhold their vote until they get what they want.
Jeff Flake gave his vote first and simply attached a request to it.
But that might work this time.— Lawrence O'Donnell (@Lawrence) September 28, 2018
And others still reminded people that during his testimony on Thursday, Kavanaugh himself did not object to an investigation.
One important point, in my mind, in light of Jeff Flake's request: Kavanaugh said many, many times yesterday when asked about calling for an FBI investigation that he would support whatever the Committee wanted.— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) September 28, 2018
All in all, it remains to be seen what will happen this weekend and next week with the Senate. If more Republicans join with Flake in calling for an investigation, it's possible McConnell would request one. As the Majority Leader, he's still able to hold the vote without requesting an investigation, assuming Flake would vote his way and he'd have the votes.