- Democrats claimed something of a victory on Friday when Sen. Jeff Flake, a Republican on the Judiciary Committee, called for an FBI investigation into the allegations of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
said on Friday that her Republican colleague’s apparent about-face “was kind of a surprise to all of us.”
Democrats claimed something of a victory on Friday when Sen. Jeff Flake, a Republican on the Judiciary Committee, called for an FBI investigation into the allegations of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat on the committee who has emerged as a key player in her party’s alliance with Flake, told reporters after Friday morning’s hearing that her Republican colleague’s apparent about-face “was kind of a surprise to all of us.”
“Did we actually think this was going to happen today? No,” Klobuchar said.
After deliberating with Democrats on the committee, Flake announced that he wouldn’t vote to confirm Kavanaugh without a week-long “pause” for an investigation, “limited in time and scope,” in order to do “our due diligence.”
“We ought to do what we can to make sure we do all due diligence with a nomination this important,” he said. “This country is being ripped apart here.”
Democrats have aggressively pushed for an FBI investigation into the allegations against Kavanaugh – making abundantly clear during Thursday’s hearing that they believe the GOP is deliberately “railroading” the confirmation process.
“You can do a lot if you have the whole FBI looking at things for one week,” Klobuchar said Friday, adding that Flake believes the process will help lessen the deep partisan divides over Kavanaugh, who is the least popular Supreme Court nominee in decades.
Flake’s Republican colleagues told reporters that they respect Flake’s decision, but don’t believe the investigation will imperil his vote in favour of Kavanaugh’s nomination.
“This is Jeff Flake, this is what I like about the guy,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who delivered one of the most impassioned defences of Kavanaugh during Thursday’s hearings, adding that he doesn’t think the investigation will uncover any new evidence.
It is now up to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to ask President Donald Trump to direct the FBI to reopen its background investigation into Kavanaugh.
On Friday, Trump told reporters in the Oval Office that he’s leaving the decision on how to proceed with the confirmation in the hands of Senate Republicans.
“Whatever they think is necessary is ok,” the president said. “They have to do what they think is right.”
Klobuchar in the spotlight
Klobuchar’s exchange with Kavanaugh, during which she asked him questions about claims that he drank to excess in high school and college, was one of Thursday’s more remarkable.
The senator opened her questioning by noting that her own father struggled with alcoholism for many years, and then asked if “there was ever a time when you drank so much that you couldn’t remember what happened, or part of what happened, the night before?”
But Kavanaugh tossed the question back to the senator.
“You’re asking about black out – I don’t know, have you?” he replied.
Klobuchar repeated the question, to which Kavanaugh again refused to respond and said, “I’m curious if you have.”
After a break in the hearing, Kavanaugh apologised to the senator, who he said he had great “respect” for.
“I’m sorry I did that – this is a tough process, I’m sorry about that,” the judge said.
Klobuchar accepted the apology, adding, “when you have a parent that’s an alcoholic, you’re pretty careful about drinking” and repeated her call to re-open the FBI background check “to get to the bottom of the facts and the evidence.”
Asked if he ever drank to the point of blacking out, Brett Kavanaugh says no, asking Sen. Klobuchar, "Have you?"
"Could you answer the question, judge? So, that's not happened, is that your answer?"
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) September 27, 2018
Read Business Insider’s full coverage of the Ford-Kavanaugh hearing:
- Full recap of the Ford-Kavanaugh hearing here
- ‘I am terrified’: Ford details her sexual-assault allegation in gut-wrenching opening statement
- ‘I will not be intimidated into withdrawing’: Kavanaugh defiant in prepared remarks for Senate hearing
- Ford says the strongest memory she has of Kavanaugh’s alleged sexual assault was ‘the uproarious laughter’
- Ford says she decided to come forward after reporters were sitting outside of her house and showing up in her classroom where she taught
- Here is the polygraph test Ford took following her sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh
- Meet Mark Judge, Kavanaugh’s high-school friend and the other man who’s becoming central to the allegations
- Here are all the allegations against Kavanaugh
- How the Ford-Kavanaugh hearing compares to the 1991 Anita Hill hearing
- Meet Rachel Mitchell, the woman questioning Ford about her Kavanaugh allegations
- Meet Brett Kavanaugh, ‘the Forrest Gump of Republican politics’
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