Republican Senator Jeff Flake joined Democrats Friday in their demand for a more complete background check on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. President Donald Trump assented to the request.
The Senator from Arizona is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee in charge of recommending Kavanaugh for confirmation. Friday morning, Flake said he would support Kavanaugh after hearing testimony Thursday from Kavanaugh and the woman who claims he sexually assaulted her in high school. The committee agreed to vote on whether they would recommend him Friday afternoon.
In the meantime, two women protesters approached Flake in the elevator. Television cameras caught the conversation. Maria Gallagher is a 23-year-old who says she’s a victim of sexual abuse. “Look at me and tell me that it doesn’t matter what happened to me” she said to Flake.
Later, Flake said he would only vote to recommend Kavanaugh after the FBI conducted another investigation. “The country is being ripped apart here,” he said.
Republicans originally wanted to confirm Kavanaugh before the new term for the Supreme Court begins on Monday. With Justice Kennedy’s resignation effective at the end of last term, there are now only eight Justices. That leaves the possibility open for tie votes.
Trump, frustrated with the delay, called the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearings “a total sham.” He tweeted, “The Senate must vote!”
But Friday, he agreed to order another background investigation on his nominee. He also ordered that it be “limited in scope.”
One witness Democrats hope to get more information from is Mark Judge. He’s the friend of Kavanaugh whom Christine Blasey Ford says was in the room when Kavanaugh assaulted her. Judge denies remembering any such event, but wrote that he would cooperate with any investigation.
Kavanaugh responded by saying, “I’ve done everything they have requested and will continue to cooperate.”
Two other women besides Ford have accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct. During their investigation, FBI agents will speak to accusers and witnesses and gather any additional evidence they may find. They will not determine whether the evidence proves or disproves the accusers’ claims. The FBI will not determine the credibility of witnesses. They will simply gather the information and give it to the White House. The White House will then give it to the Senate Judiciary Committee. At that time, the committee can hold another set of hearings to question anyone named in the investigation.