The Senate Judiciary Committee will ask the Trump administration to direct the FBI to conduct an investigation into the allegations of sexual assault made against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, a statement from the committee released Friday said.
“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 release said.
— Seung Min Kim (@seungminkim) September 28, 2018
In the statement, the committee specifically calls the allegations against Kavanaugh “credible,” but until earlier Friday afternoon, they planned to rush his confirmation. Their position changed after Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) said he would vote to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination out of committee Friday but that he would not support the nominee on a floor vote unless the FBI conducted an investigation.
“I think it would be proper to delay the floor vote for up to, but not more than, one week in order to let the FBI… do an investigation limited in time and scope to the current allegations that are there,” Flake said Friday afternoon during the Judiciary Committee’s meeting.
On Friday morning, Flake announced he would vote to confirm Kavanaugh, but appeared to back down somewhat after he was confronted by protesters in an elevator ahead of the vote. He also met privately with some committee Democrats before his announcement.
“I have spoken to a few other members on my side of the aisle that may be supportive as well,” he said of the call to delay for an investigation. “But that’s my position. I think that we ought to do what we can to do all due diligence with a nomination this important.”
Three pivotal votes, Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Joe Manchin (D-WV), all announced after the vote that they agreed with Flake’s decision.
NEWS: Murkowski, entering the Capitol “on the way to talk to her colleagues,” said she supports @JeffFlake proposal for a one week delay and an investigation.
— Leigh Ann Caldwell (@LACaldwellDC) September 28, 2018
JUST IN: Sen. Joe Manchin supports Sen. Jeff Flake's call for a delay in Kavanaugh vote for FBI background investigation.
— ABC News (@ABC) September 28, 2018
SUSAN COLLINS says she supports this idea. That’s 3 GOP moderates — Flake, Collins, Murkowski — plus Manchin. That’s a moderate bloc, “The FBI Four” — who can block Kavanaugh’s nomination from moving forward until the FBI investigation is complete. https://t.co/kqrxlrC1UY
— Ed O'Keefe (@edokeefe) September 28, 2018
The Judiciary Committee’s move to request an FBI investigation comes in the wake of a number of allegations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh.
Christine Blasey Ford, the first of three women to come forward with allegations against Kavanaugh, says Kavanaugh attempted to rape her at a “gathering” in high school.
During a testimony under oath Thursday, she said Kavanaugh forced himself on her, groped her over her clothes, and tried to pull off her clothing. When she tried to scream, he then covered her mouth with his hand and turned up the music in the room to muffle her cries. She said during her testimony that she believed Kavanaugh might accidentally kill her.
The second woman who came forward, Deborah Ramirez, told The New Yorker that, at a party in college, Kavanaugh thrust his penis into her face against her wishes. A third woman, Julie Swetnick, says she was gang raped at a party where Kavanaugh was present.
Swetnick did not directly implicate Kavanaugh in the attack, but she wrote in a sworn affidavit that Kavanaugh was among a group of boys with whom she associated and that he frequently spiked women’s drinks or drugged them in order to rape them. Kavanaugh has denied all the claims.
— Mike Scarcella (@MikeScarcella) September 28, 2018
Both Swetnick and Ford say that a friend of Kavanaugh’s, a man named Mark Judge, was present at the parties where they were attacked. The Judiciary Committee has refused to subpoena Judge, but his lawyer did announce Friday that if the FBI requested Judge’s cooperation, he would “answer any and all questions posed to him.”
Update: As CNN’s Jeff Zeleny first reported, President Trump directed the FBI to complete a supplemental background investigation into the allegations against Kavanaugh.
Statement from President @realDonaldTrump:
“I’ve ordered the FBI to conduct a supplemental investigation to update Judge Kavanaugh’s file. As the Senate has requested, this update must be limited in scope and completed in less than one week.”
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) September 28, 2018