The Slatest

Kavanaugh’s Confirmation Advances in Judiciary Committee After Flake Demands One-Week Delay and FBI Investigation

Jeff Flake walks out during a hearing on Brett Kavanaugh's nomination.
Sen. Jeff Flake walks out of the committee room to arrange his deal on Friday.
Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court advanced on a party-line vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee after Republican Sen. Jeff Flake said he wanted a time-limited investigation into Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations before a vote of the full Senate on final passage for Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

“I think it would be proper to delay the floor vote for up to but no more than one week,” Flake said. “Let the FBI do an investigation limited in time and scope to the current allegations that are there.”

Flake’s commitment is not backed by any legislation, but instead, it seemed, is backed by a threat to withhold his vote for Kavanaugh. To be confirmed, Kavanaugh needs the votes of all the Republican senators except one, assuming no Democratic senators vote yes.

Republicans on the committee quickly pointed out that Flake had no power to legislatively force an investigation and that it would have to be agreed to by leadership in the Senate. “Senator Flake has made clear what makes him comfortable on a majority floor vote, but will be up to Senators Schumer and McConnell,” Sen. Lindsey Graham said. Sen. John Cornyn, a member of the Republican leadership, said that Flake “maintains significant leverage” over the final vote for Kavanaugh.

Whether a further investigation will happen or if the subjects of that investigation would provide any new information is, of course, unknown. “I understand witnesses may not want to discuss further,” Flake said.

Update, Sept. 28, 2018, at 2:50 p.m.: Sen. Lisa Murkowski told reporters that she supports Flake’s demand for an FBI investigation before the final vote. If they were both to vote no on Kavanaugh, along with all the Democrats, his nomination would go down.

Update, Sept. 28, 2018, at 4:04 p.m.: Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley announced that the committee would “request that the administration instruct the FBI to conduct a supplemental FBI background investigation with respect to the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to be an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court.”

The investigation, Grassley said, “would be limited to current credible allegations against the nominee and must be completed no later than one week from today.”