The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Friday to recommend the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court; however, Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake called for a delay of the full Senate vote for up to a week in order for an FBI investigation into sexual assault allegations against the nominee.
The vote fell along party lines, with the 11 Republicans on the committee voting for Kavanaugh and 10 Democrats voting against his appointment.
At Friday’s hearing, Flake said that based on conversations he had with Democratic senators, “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.”
“I will vote to advance the bill to the floor with that understanding,” he added.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) September 28, 2018
Floor votes are set by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, but Flake holds the power of a vote the Republicans will almost surely need to put Kavanaugh over the top.
The Arizona senator, who had wanted to hear from sexual assault accuser Dr. Christine Blasey Ford before making a decision, had announced earlier Friday morning that he would be voting to confirm, CNBC reported.
“I wish that I could express the confidence that some of my colleagues have conveyed about what either did or did not happen in the early 1980s, but I left the hearing yesterday with as much doubt as certainty,” he said in a statement.
He added that the presumption of innocence “is what binds us to the rule of law.”
Thus far, 48 Republican senators, including Flake, have publicly committed to voting for Kavanaugh to be confirmed.
The holdouts include Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine and Mike Enzi of Wyoming.
Democratic senators who are considered possible “yes” votes for Kavanaugh include Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. Both voted to confirm Justice Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court last year and are from states Trump handily won in 2016.
A minimum of 50 senators’ votes are needed, with Vice President Mike Pence casting a tie-breaking vote for Kavanaugh to be confirmed.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley offered his support for Kavanaugh Friday, saying in remarks before the committee that Ford offered credible testimony the previous day, but provided no corroborating evidence to support her allegation.
“It is a fundamental aspect of fairness and due process that the accuser has the burden of proving allegations,” Grassley said. “I found Dr. Ford’s testimony credible. I believe she is sincere in her version of the facts, but I also found Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony credible and sincere.”
“Ultimately the existing evidence, including the statements of three alleged eye-witnesses named by Dr. Ford, refutes Dr. Ford’s version of the facts,” he concluded. “There is no reason to deny Judge Kavanaugh as seat on the Supreme Court on the basis of evidence presented to us.”
Shortly after Grassley gaveled in the committee, Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut made a motion that the committee subpoena Kavanaugh’s friend and high school classmate Mark Judge to testify. The motion was defeated.
Ford testified that Judge was in the room at the time of the alleged sexual assault.
In a letter submitted to the committee through his attorney “under penalty of felony,” Judge denied the event ever occurred.
“I never saw Brett act in the manner Dr. Ford describes,” he said.
“I did not ask to be involved in this matter nor did anyone ask me to be involved,” the letter stated. “We have told the committee that I do not want to comment about these events publicly.”
New #Kavanaugh friend Mark Judge letter – obtained by FOX – on why he didn’t want to testify as a recovering alcoholic and cancer survivor, and says he never saw Judge Kavanaugh act in the manner Dr. Ford describes. pic.twitter.com/sLLqIDd7Fn
— Mike Emanuel 🇺🇸 (@MikeEmanuelFox) September 28, 2018
“As a recovering alcoholic and a cancer survivor, I have struggled with depression and anxiety,” his letter stated. “As a result, I avoid public speaking.”
Four Democratic senators on the committee walked out of Friday’s hearing after Republicans scheduled a time to vote later that day.
The senators included Blumenthal, Kamala Harris of California, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island.
They told reporters outside the hearing room that the allegations against Kavanaugh should be investigated by the FBI, which is a demand Democrats repeatedly made during Thursday’s proceedings.
“We have been calling for hearings and additional witnesses,” Blumenthal stated. “It is obvious to the American people that Republicans are jamming through this nomination.”
“This is a failure of this body to do which it always says it was it is about: being deliberative,” Harris said.
Many legal experts have pointed out the FBI would make no recommendations. If the bureau were to reopen Kavanaugh’s background check, it would be simply interviewing relevant parties and witnesses.
A vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination by the full Senate had been expected either Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.
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