Senate Judiciary Committee Advances Kavanaugh Vote To The Floor, Even As Flake Calls For FBI Investigation

Breanna Edwards Sep, 28, 2018

Updated Friday, September 28, 2018, 1:59 p.m. EST: Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) placed a last minute condition on his vote and has called for an FBI investigation for up to one week before the full Senate votes on Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

Prior to the committee voting on whether or not to push Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the full Senate, Flake spoke out saying, “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 continue to do an investigation limited in time and scope to the current allegations that are there and limited in time to no more than one week.”

Flake did vote to move the bill to the floor –  a vote which did occur and was predictably split across party lines –  as he said he would while giving his statement before the vote.

“I think that we ought to do what we can to make sure that we do all due diligence with a nomination so important,” Flake said in his statement.

Grassley abruptly ended the hearing. Before the senators’ microphones were cut off, ranking member Dianne Feinstein could be heard exclaiming, “What?!”

It is worth noting that Flake’s motion comes hours after he was confronted by two sexual assault survivors in the elevators, shorty after announcing definitively that he would vote for Kavanaugh.

Shortly after the confrontation, he took his seat in the chamber among his fellow committee members look visibly uncomfortable and upset.

At the end of the day, however, what will become of Flake’s motion is left to be seen. As mentioned earlier, he still voted to move Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Senate floor. From now, Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, controls the process and when the vote will be held.

And even if the vote was delayed, it is ultimately up to President Donald Trump to sign off on an FBI investigation.

Trump spoke from the White House shortly after the vote to move Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Senate floor. The president acknowledged that he was in a meeting with the President of Chile while the hearing was going on, and thus was not fully up to date on the subject.

When asked about the confirmation, Trump said, “I’m going to let the Senate handle that.”

“I’m going to rely on all of the people, including Sen. Grassley, who’s doing a very good job. That’ll be a decision that they’re going to make,” he added. “I will be totally reliant on what Sen. Grassley and the group decides to do.”

Nonetheless, Trump acknowledged that he has not thought of a replacement for Kavanaugh “not even a little bit.”

Trump called Ford a “very credible witness,” but also praised Kavanaugh’s testimony saying that it was “really something that I haven’t seen before.”

“It was an incredible moment in the history of our country,” he said.

“I just want it to work out well for the country,” Trump added. “If that happens, I’m happy.”

Updated Friday, September 28, 2018, 9:56 a.m. EST: The Senate Judiciary Committee has voted 11-8 to move forward with the Kavanaugh vote, which will take place at 1:30 p.m. EST. Democratic Senators Cory Booker and Kamala Harris reportedly declined to voice their vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination in protest.

 

Updated Friday, September 28, 2018, 9:30 a.m. EST: Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who was one of the major swing votes as to whether or not Kavanaugh was likely to be confirmed has decided to put his vote firmly in Kavanaugh’s corner.

“I will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh,” Flake wrote in his statement.

Earlier:

After hearing testimonies from both Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and the woman who has accused him of sexual assault, Christine Blasey Ford, the Senate Judiciary is set to vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination.

The 11 Republicans and the 10 Democrats in the committee are expected to meet at 9:30 a.m. EST less than 24 hours after the hearings concluded and giving its members very little time to absorb and review the testimonies.

The committee could either vote that the full Senate approve the nomination, that the full Senate reject the nomination, or make no recommendations at all. A procedural vote on the Senate floor is expected at noon on Saturday, before the final vote will be held early next week.

Meanwhile, eyes are closely following  Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) who appears to be the one with the swing vote on the committee and two moderate Republican senators, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, who are not on the committee but could tip the scales in the Senate that is controlled by Republicans 51 to 49.

The American Bar Association has stepped forward to encourage the Judiciary Committee and the full Senate to slow down on their vote until the FBI can do a full background check into the multiple claims of assault that has been lodged against him. 

“We make this request because of the ABA’s respect for the rule of law and due process under law,” the ABA letter to committee leadership said. “Each appointment to our nation’s highest court (as with all others) is simply too important to rush to a vote.”

Meanwhile, Mark Judge, Kavanaugh’s friend who was mentioned heavily throughout the hearings has written a letter to the Judiciary Committee, saying that he does “not recall the events” that Ford mentioned in her testimony.

“I never saw Brett act in the manner Dr. Ford describes,” he wrote. “I did not ask to be involved in this matter nor did anyone ask me to be involved.”

Ford has accused Kavanaugh of pinning her to a bed during a house party back in the 1980s when they were both in high school, and attempting to remove her clothes. She claimed that she was only able to escape Kavanaugh when Judge jumped on to them, causing everyone to tumble.

Judge reiterated that he did not want to publicly comment on the events, despite repeated calls from Democrats and other supporters of Ford.

“As a recovering alcoholic and a cancer survivor, I have struggled with depression and anxiety,” his letter said. “As a result, I avoid public speaking.”

His attorney Barbara Van Gelder had previously told the Washington Post that Judge needed to avoid the spotlight due to his health.

“I told him to leave town. He is being hounded. He is a recovering alcoholic and is under unbelievable stress,” Judge said at the time. “He needed for his own health to get out of this toxic environment and take care of himself.”