“I’m going to rely on all of the people including Senator Grassley, who’s doing a very good job,” Trump said.
The Judiciary Committee voted on Friday along party lines to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination to the full Senate, but a dramatic last-minute speech from retiring Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., thrust the process into chaos.
Flake, who earlier announced that he would vote “yes” on Kavanaugh’s confirmation, said at the committee meeting that his floor vote would be contingent on an FBI probe. A number of other senators considered to be swing votes soon followed suit, with Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin signaling their support for Flake’s proposal almost immediately.
The delay follows an explosive, nearly nine-hour day of testimony before the Judiciary Committee on Thursday from Kavanaugh and one of his accusers, Christine Blasey Ford. Ford has alleged that Kavanaugh attempted to rape her at a high school gathering that took place more than three decades ago. Kavanaugh has vehemently denied the accusation.
The prospect of an FBI probe was contentiously debated at the hearing Thursday. The two top members of the committee sparred over the utility of such an inquiry — as well as if it could even be conducted.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the committee, said an FBI probe would be “the best way to ensure a fair process to both Kavanaugh and Ford.”
In contrast, Grassley called Democratic demands for the FBI to get involved “consistent with their stated desires to obstruct the Kavanaugh nomination by any means necessary,” and said he had “no authority to force an executive branch agency to conduct an investigation into a matter it considers to be closed.”
Ford and Kavanaugh themselves were split on whether the FBI should investigate. While Ford has pushed for the bureau to look into her claims, Kavanaugh has pushed back. He said he wants to do whatever the Judiciary Committee thinks is best.
Kavanaugh responded emotionally Thursday when Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., pointed out to him that the FBI could conclude an inquiry in a matter of days.
“Senator, do you know how long the last 10 days have been for us?” Kavanaugh said. “Every day is like an eternity.”