In a truly remarkable turn, Senator Jeff Flake on Friday afternoon agreed to advance Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination out of committee, but he added a caveat.
Flake indicated that his support for Kavanaugh going forward will be contingent upon a one-week, “limited” FBI investigation into allegations leveled by Christine Blasey Ford “and others.”
As Bloomberg’s Shannon Pettypiece reminds you, “only the White House can direct the FBI to reopen the background investigation”.
Late Friday afternoon, second-ranking Republican John Cornyn announced that the GOP will indeed back a one-week delay as requested by Flake. Donald Trump subsequently ordered the probe, although it’s still a bit unclear what it will entail.
Regardless of what happens next, Friday’s events were extraordinary.
Earlier in the day, Flake said he would back Kavanaugh, but at the last minute, he seemed to get cold feet. If you’re curious as to why, here’s a hint:
That’s rather compelling and it clearly resonated. Hours later, Flake took what counts as a stand these days:
Flake has of course been critical of President Trump on numerous occasions and speculation was rampant as to whether he would join his fellow Republicans in rushing to judgement Friday, less than a full day after Kavanaugh’s wild testimony to the committee concluded.
Read more on Flake and Trump
To say the situation is now “fluid” would be to understate the case.
Democrats profusely thanked Flake following the vote, which fell along party lines. A visibly perturbed Chuck Grassley attempted to obfuscate, telling Dianne Feinstein that Flake’s pseudo-motion was not in fact a motion, but rather a “gentlemen’s and ladies’ agreement.”
Flake went on to clarify, explaining that in the interest of “bringing the country together”, he is willing to ask the White House to call on the FBI to conduct an investigation. Here is the dramatic clip:
As you can see, Grassley was not amused. In what certainly appeared to be an effort to keep Flake and Democrats from establishing the contours of the investigation, Chuck dropped the gavel.
Earlier on Friday, it looked as if there was no hope for Kavanaugh’s accusers when it comes to seeing the FBI investigate their claims. Now, thanks to Jeff Flake, they may have their day in court, figuratively and perhaps – although highly unlikely – literally.
Full Kavanaugh coverage