By LISA MASCARO,
ALAN FRAM and
WASHINGTON (AP) —
After a flurry of last-minute negotiations, the Senate Judiciary Committee
advanced Brett Kavanaugh's nomination for the Supreme Court Friday after
agreeing to a late call from Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona for a one
week investigation into sexual assault allegations against the high court
However, it was
unclear whether Republican leaders, who have pushed for fast confirmation of
Kavanaugh, would back Flake's call for an investigation or instead would
press forward with a full Senate vote on the nomination. President Donald
Trump, who has accused the Democrats of obstruction and delay and has
opposed the FBI probing the allegations against his nominee, said merely
that he would "let the Senate handle that."
The dramatic scene
unfolded a day after Kavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford,
testified in an emotional, hours-long hearing. Kavanaugh angrily denied the
allegations that he assaulted Ford while they were both in high school,
while she said she was "100 percent" certain he was her attacker.
Flake, a key
moderate Republican, was at the center of the drama and uncertainty. On
Friday morning, he announced that he would support Kavanaugh's nomination.
Shortly after, he was confronted in an elevator by two women who, through
tears, implored him to change his mind.
privately with his colleagues, Flake announced that he would vote to advance
Kavanaugh's nomination to the full Senate only if the FBI were to
investigate the allegations against the judge. Democrats have been calling
for such an investigation, though Republicans and the White House have
insisted it's unnecessary.
Flake said that
after discussing the matter with fellow senators, he felt it "would be
proper to delay the floor vote for up to but not more than one week."
That increases the
pressure on a handful of colleagues who haven't yet said whether they back
Kavanaugh: Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of
Alaska, and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
With a 51-49
majority, Senate Republicans have little margin for error, especially given
the fact that several Democrats facing tough re-election prospects this fall
announced their opposition to Kavanaugh on Friday. Sens. Bill Nelson of
Florida, Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Jon Tester of Montana all said they
would vote no.