Brett Kavanaugh's nomination has been stalled on the Senate floor after GOP leadership agreed Friday afternoon to a one-week delay for an FBI investigation into allegations of sexual harassment against the Supreme Court nominee. Earlier in the day, the Judiciary Committee approved Kavanaugh's advancement by a vote of 11-10 along party lines.
"There's going to be a supplemental FBI background investigation" said Majority Whip Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) in a Friday statement, which he said would last no longer than a week.
Cornyn, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and a number of other Republicans had huddled in McConnell's office Friday afternoon to discuss how to proceed on the confirmation following a call from three key senators to delay the vote. -CNBC
Immediately prior to the Judiciary Committee voted, GOP Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona - who is not running for reelection - attempted to push for a delay pending an FBI investigation, however he was unsuccessful after Chairman Grassley rushed the vote.
Flake then vowed to vote no on the full floor decision, and was joined by GOP Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, just one day after Dianne Feinstein cornered her in a hallway for an apparent "talking to."
While walking into Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's office, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, a key vote, said "yes," when asked if she supports Sen. Jeff Flake's proposal for a delay.
CNN asked: And do you think it should be limited to Ford’s accusations or should it include an investigation into other allegations?
Murkowski responded: "I support the FBI having an opportunity to bring some closure to this." -CNN
Graham, other GOP endorse FBI probe
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) endorsed Flake's proposal, saying "What Jeff is saying makes sense to me," adding "Somebody’s got to explain this to Trump. So, I guess that’ll be my job."
I asked Lindsey Graham what happens if the FBI is not done with an investigation into Kavanaugh allegations within a week. "A week is enough time for (Flake), maybe less ... We're not playing this game of opening this up and it goes on forever." pic.twitter.com/vSKJR6Qgpl— Manu Raju (@mkraju) September 28, 2018
Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, a top GOP backer of Kavanaugh, told reporters he thought an FBI investigation was "overkill" but that he was okay with the idea.
Grassley said at the committee meeting that he told Flake, “I would advocate for the position he took but I don’t control it." After the committee meeting concluded, Grassley told top Democrat Dianne Feinstein of California the plan was "a gentlemen’s and women’s agreement.” Flake said he would make a request to the White House to direct the FBI to do the probe.
Democrat Chris Coons told reporters that Flake only struck the deal with Democrats “after having reassurances from some other senators in his party.”
Coons of Delaware said that after Flake announced his support for Kavanaugh earlier Friday, they had a private conversation and Coons said he told Flake, “I respect you as my friend, but I’m having difficulty with your vote. It became a much broader conversation.” -Bloomberg
The White House has agreed to order the new investigation on Kavanaugh, along with outlining the scope and parameters of the investigation, according to Bloomberg.
Statement from President @realDonaldTrump:— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) September 28, 2018
“I’ve ordered the FBI to conduct a supplemental investigation to update Judge Kavanaugh’s file. As the Senate has requested, this update must be limited in scope and completed in less than one week.”
With a slim majority in the Senate of 51-49, the GOP would have been unable to push ahead with a Kavanaugh vote without at least Flake or Murkowski's support, as Vice President Mike Pence could break a tie in a deadlock.
The move by Flake, a frequent Trump critic who is retiring from the Senate after this year, was cheered by several Democrats, including Sen. Chris Coons (Del.), a fellow member of the Judiciary Committee.
“He and I dont share a lot of political views but we share a deep concern for the health of this institution and what it means to the rest of the world and the country,” said Coons, who huddled with Flake before he announced his position. -WaPo
When asked Friday afternoon what he thought about the delay, President Trump said "I'm going to let the Senate handle that," insisting that he would not get involved in pressuring the dissenting GOP senators to vote either way.
"I'm going to rely on all of the people including Senator Grassley who's doing a very good job," added Trump.
Meanwhile, CNBC reports that an attorney for Mark Judge, Kavanaugh's high school friend said to have been in the room during an alleged groping incident, says that Judge "will answer any and all questions posed to him" by the FBI.
"If the FBI or any law enforcement agency requests Mr. Judge's cooperation, he will answer any and all questions posed to him," Judge's lawyer Barbara Van Gelder told CNBC in an email. -CNBC
Accuser Christin Blasey Ford says that both Judge and Kavanaugh were extremely drunk at a 1982 party that she has scant memories of, when Kavanaugh grinded his body against hers on a bed and attempted to take her clothes off. She testified that it was only after Judge jumped on the bed that the attack stopped.
Of note, four individuals named by Ford have all denied any memory of the party - including Ford's "lifelong" friend, Leland Ingham Keyser, who says she has never been at a party where Kavanaugh was in attendance.