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Brett Kavanaugh clears committee vote, Senate requests FBI probe

Jeff Flake calls for delay in Kavanaugh floor vote, FBI investigation
WATCH: Republican Jeff Flake on Friday stopped short of saying he would not vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh, instead saying the Senate should delay a full floor vote to give time for an FBI investigation.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has voted to recommend Brett Kavanaugh for a lifetime appointment for the U.S. Supreme Court, but says it will request that an FBI investigation is conducted.

The FBI investigation is a caveat put forth by Sen. Jeff Flake, who said he wants the FBI to investigate the claims of sexual misconduct before he’ll vote to confirm Kavanaugh in the Senate, even though he voted in favour of Kavanaugh during the meeting Friday.

In a statement following the vote, the committee explained 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.”

The committee vote came after a day of emotional testimony from one of the women accusing Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct. Kavanaugh fiercely defended the accusations.

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READ MORE: Sexual assault helpline saw 147% spike during Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony

WATCH: McConnell announces nomination of Kavanaugh to Supreme Court to proceed 

McConnell announces nomination of Kavanaugh to Supreme Court to proceed
McConnell announces nomination of Kavanaugh to Supreme Court to proceed

Flake was the deciding vote; until Friday morning, he hadn’t committed to either side.

In a written statement Friday morning, Flake said: “I left the hearing yesterday with as much doubt as certainty.”

“What I do know is that our system of justice affords a presumption of innocence to the accused, absent corroborating evidence.”

WATCH: ‘You are telling all women they don’t matter’: Jeff Flake confronted after voting yes on Kavanaugh

Senator Jeff Flake confronted by protesters inside elevator about why he intends to support Brett Kavanaugh
Senator Jeff Flake confronted by protesters inside elevator about why he intends to support Brett Kavanaugh

But before the vote was expected to take place at 1:30 p.m., senators met behind closed doors.

They reconvened around 1:51 p.m. Flake said he asked to delay the vote before the full Senate by one week to allow an FBI investigation.

That’s when Flake explained he needed more information before he could promise to vote for Kavanaugh in the Senate.

Senators voted along party lines, 11 Republicans voted in favour of recommending Kavanaugh, 10 Democrats voted against.

WATCH: Senate committee meeting ends in chaos after Grassley invokes ‘two-hour rule’

Kavanaugh meeting ends in chaos after Grassley invokes ‘two-hour rule’
Kavanaugh meeting ends in chaos after Grassley invokes ‘two-hour rule’

Majority leader Mitch McConnell will now call for a vote in the Senate to confirm him.

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The 100-person Senate is controlled by the Republicans (51-49) but as the midterms are approaching, it may not stay that way for long.

Three senators have not taken firm positions on Kavanaugh. Republicans Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski and Democrat Joe Manchin met separately after Thursday’s hearing. It’s likely they will vote as a bloc.

READ MORE: How will senators vote on Brett Kavanaugh? 3 Republicans won’t say, and 1 Democrat is ‘undecided’

Commenting on the vote, U.S. President Donald Trump said he hadn’t pick an alternative if the Senate doesn’t confirm Kavanaugh. He also said he wouldn’t interfere in the process.

“I’m going to let the Senate handle that. They’ll make their decisions,” Trump told reporters at the White House Friday afternoon.

Before the vote, senators offered comments on the emotional testimony from Christine Blasey Ford, one of the women who accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault.

Republicans staunchly defended Kavanaugh’s character and condemned those they say were dragging his name through the mud.

“Judge Kavanaugh has talked about the smears — and the many that have levelled against him in the last two weeks — how he put it destroyed his family. To some that may sound like hyperbole, I don’t think it is,” Sen. Ted Cruz said.

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For their part, Democrats on the committee took issue with how quickly the proceedings were going, saying there was not time for a full FBI investigation.

READ MORE: Fact check: Brett Kavanaugh not exonerated by lack of witness recollections

They also said the decision will have a lasting impact on whether or not sexual assault survivors will come forward in the future.

“How this committee handles this nomination can be viewed as a reflection of how seriously our society views credible claims of misconduct,” Sen. Patrick Leahy said.

“If victims think they’ll never be believed, or simply will not be taken seriously if they are believed, then why come forward at all.”

WATCH: Senators comment on Kavanaugh and Ford’s testimony

READ MORE: How will senators vote on Brett Kavanaugh? 3 Republicans won’t say, and 1 Democrat is ‘undecided’