Sen. Jeff Flake demands FBI investigation on Kavanaugh, delaying vote

"This country is being ripped apart here," Flake told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
  • With just minutes to go until the Senate Judiciary Committee voted on Kavanaugh's confirmation, Flake entered closed-door talks with other senators to discuss terms of a possible FBI investigation.
  • Flake said he will vote against Kavanaugh unless a one-week FBI investigation takes place.
  • Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who's remained undecided on Kavanaugh, says she will support Flake.

In a dramatic turn of events, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) told the Senate Judiciary Committee he would vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court only if the Senate asks the FBI to conduct a one-week investigation into allegations sexual assault.

It was an unexpected development that followed meetings with Democratic senators that occurred just minutes before the confirmation vote was scheduled to take place.

Flake, who announced today before the meeting that he would vote yes on Kavanaugh, said it would be "proper" to delay the Senate vote "for up to, but not more than one week."

"I'm not expecting [Democrats] to vote yes... but not to complain that an FBI investigation has not occurred," Flake said. "This is what I'm trying to do. This country is being ripped apart here. We've got to make sure that we do due diligence."

The committee voted to approve Kavanaugh's nomination, effectively sending the vote to the Senate floor. Now, the question of whether an FBI investigation will take place lies in the hands of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

McConnell hasn't said whether he will order an FBI investigation. However, Flake said that he would vote against Kavanaugh if an investigation doesn't take place. Reportedly, Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has said she will stand with Flake in demanding an investigation. Susan Collins (R-ME), another undecided senator, could follow suit.

McConnell seems pressed to pursue an investigation. Why? Because Republicans need 51 votes to confirm Kavanaugh, and a defection by any one of the undecided senators could jeopardize Kavanaugh's chances of ascending to the Supreme Court.

President Donald Trump told reporters he would support whatever the Senate decides, adding that he thought Christine Blasey Ford's testimony was compelling. "I thought her testimony was very compelling, and she looks like a very fine woman to me," Trump told reporters. "Brett's testimony was, likewise, really something that I hadn't seen before."

Protestors confront Flake

Earlier this morning, just minutes after announcing that he'd support Kavanaugh at today's committee vote, Flake stepped into an elevator. But before the doors could close, two women confronted Flake and made an impassioned plea for him to vote against Kavanaugh.

"On Monday, I stood in front of your office," one of the women, Ana Maria Archila, told Flake. "I told the story of my sexual assault."

"I told it because I recognized in Dr. Ford's story that she is telling the truth," she said, her voice breaking. "What you are doing is allowing someone who actually violated a woman to sit on the Supreme Court. This is not tolerable. You have children in your family. Think about them!"

Watch the full video of the confrontation below:

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