Republicans voted to advance the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh on Sept. 28, concluding a committee process thrown into disarray two weeks ago by the last-minute release of allegations by a female accuser.
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who has been on the fence until the morning of the confirmation hearing, voted yes to recommend Kavanaugh for a floor vote by the Senate. Flake then said that he would only vote to confirm Kavanaugh in the full Senate if the FBI conducted a week-long investigation into the accuser’s claim.
Flake made the last-minute demand after spending several minutes in a room with Democrats. The full Senate, led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has no obligation to carry out Flake’s demand.
The FBI considers the allegations by Christine Ford a closed matter, according to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley.
The Senate will hold the first procedural vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation on Saturday. Despite being procedural, the vote will be the first time that four swing-vote Senators would have to show their hands.
Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins and Democrat Senators Joe Manchin and Heidi Heitkamp have not said how they would vote. Flake’s demand for an FBI probe adds additional uncertainty.
Grassley has brushed aside Democrats’ calls for an FBI probe into Ford’s allegation. The bureau considers the matter closed. Ford’s account lacks a specific date and location. All of the witnesses she named deny any knowledge of the event.
Grassley has also pointed out that the ranking Democrat on the committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, withheld Ford’s allegations for eight weeks, a time during which the claims could have been thoroughly investigated by the FBI as part of the standard confirmation process.
McConnell had indicated that he would bring the nomination for a floor vote regardless of the committee vote. The majority leader has the power to override the committee’s recommendation.