In a move that could give fence-sitting senators from both parties “political cover” in a full Senate vote to confirm U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) called for a one-week delay so that the FBI can probe sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh, even as he voted with 10 other Republicans on the Judiciary Committee on Friday to advance the nomination to the full chamber.
“If the FBI finds nothing new (as is likely), Collins, Murkowski, and Manchin are unquestionably more likely to vote yes.”
—Lachlan Markay, Daily Beast
While Flake’s threat to oppose Kavanaugh unless Republican leaders allow an investigation comes after Democratic lawmakers and protesters across the nation have spent days demanding such a probe, observers are warning that Flake and others may use it to eventually vote in favor of President Donald Trump’s nominee.
After Flake, during a committee meeting on Friday, called for federal investigators to look into “current allegations”—Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, Deborah Ramirez, and Julie Swetnick have publicly accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault—Splinter News senior writer Hamilton Nolan tweeted:
Flake is considered a key swing vote if and when Kavanaugh’s nomination is brought to the Senate floor—along with Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine) as well as Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.).
Murkowski told CNN on Friday that as long a probe is “limited in time and scope,” she also supports “the FBI having an opportunity to bring some closure to this.” Manchin and Collins released separate statements declaring their support for a one-week FBI investigation.
Daily Beast reporter Lachlan Markay posited on Twitter that if federal investigators don’t uncover any new information about the alleged assaults that hasn’t already been revealed in Thursday’s hearing—which featured testimony from Ford—or media reports, “Collins, Murkowski, and Manchin are unquestionably more likely to vote yes.”
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