Committee approves Kavanaugh but FBI investigation looms
Sen. Jeff Flake, who just hours earlier had said he would support the nomination, changed his mind and said he now wants to get the FBI to investigate allegations that Judge Kavanaugh was involved in sexual assault or worse during his high school or college days.
President Trump said he was just learning of the decision and said he would rely on what the GOP leaders chose to do.
“I just want it to work out well for the country,” he said. “Whatever they think is necessary.”
The president said he hadn’t considered a replacement for Judge Kavanaugh. “Not even a little bit,” he said.
But he said he acknowledged Democrats’ anger at the way the process played out and said an FBI probe would at least remove that procedural objection.
His decision kneecapped what had appeared to be a renewed push to get Judge Kavanaugh confirmed to the high court.
Republicans had hoped for a first floor-test vote as early as Saturday on Judge Kavanaugh.
They could still proceed, but they would likely lose. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Alaska Republican, and Sen. Joe Manchin, West Virginia Democrat, both signaled support for Mr. Flake’s strategy of a delay.
“The American people have been pulled apart by this entire spectacle, and we need to take time to address these claims independently, so that our country can have confidence in the outcome of this vote,” Mr. Manchin said.
He’s one of only a couple of Democrats who have not yet announced their opposition to Judge Kavanaugh.
Many of the others had been opposed from the day he was nominated — and some were opposed even before he was named back in July.
Their reasons have varied, but in recent weeks they have chiefly centered on allegations of sexual assault lodged by Christine Blasey Ford, a woman who says she was attacked 36 years ago at a high school party.
Judge Kavanaugh vehemently denies those allegations and they have not been corroborated by any of the people Ms. Blasey Ford has said were present, but Democrats have said they believe her nonetheless.
“Where is the bravery in this room?” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota Democrat, demanded of Republicans who had stonewalled an FBI probe.
“An FBI investigation is going to do nothing. It’s not going to tell you any more than we know now,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who has emerged as Judge Kavanaugh’s most powerful defender on Capitol Hill.
Still, he praised Mr. Flake for attempting to find common ground in asking for an investigation.