At the urging of both Republicans and Democrats, President Donald Trump said Friday he will authorize an investigation into the allegations looming over Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, delaying his confirmation vote by at least another week.
The announcement followed days of Republicans hemming and hawing about the possibility of a full FBI investigation into the claims of three women who publicly stepped forward to accuse Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct or assault. Trump and the GOP finally caved Friday after Sen. Jeff Flake — a key swing vote for Republicans — signaled that he was on the fence about confirming Kavanaugh without a deeper inquiry. Other Republicans and moderate Democrats soon joined.
The Senate Judiciary Committee voted to recommend Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the full Senate earlier Friday, during a contentious committee hearing that ended with Flake at least partially taking the side of some of his Democrat colleagues.
Before confirming the investigation, Trump had indicated that he would be “totally reliant” on the actions of Sen. Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who said that he would recommend reopening the investigation.
But, Grassley assured, this inquiry will have rules. Republicans want it to last no more than a week and want the scope limited to the current, credible allegations, such as those made by Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. Ford told the committee that Kavanaugh pinned her down, groped her and muffled her screams during a summer party in 1982, when she was 15. With the federal background check reopened, it’s likely that investigators will focus on Mark Judge, a longtime friend to Kavanaugh and alleged witness to Ford’s assault. He said Friday that he’d be willing to talk with investigators, so long as he could keep his statements confidential. Democrats had questioned why Judge was not brought before the committee to testify, since he would have been the only witness apart from Ford and Kavanaugh.
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 27: Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is sworn in to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill on September 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. Kavanaugh was called back to testify about claims by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused him of sexually assaulting her during a party in 1982 when they were high school students in suburban Maryland. (Photo by Andrew Harnik - Pool/Getty Images)