FBI Called to Investigate Kavanaugh
Plans to put Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh onto the Senate floor for a full vote were stalled when the Senate Judiciary Committee agreed to a one week delay in order for the FBI to investigate the sexual assault allegations against the nominee.
Despite praising the nominee as being “powerful, honest, and riveting” for his testimony on Thursday, President Donald Trump took a different course the following day, calling for a “supplemental investigation” on Kavanaugh’s background. In a statement, Trump also added, “As the Senate has requested, this update must be limited in scope and completed in less than a week.”
Thursday’s testimonies from Kavanaugh and his alleged sexual assault accuser, Christine Ford, were highly anticipated. Starting the day, Ford highlighted in her opening statement that her decision to come out with the allegation was not for partisan motives, but rather “a civic duty” to allow the public to know about the judge. Republicans on the committee had hired Rachel Mitchell, a prosecutor specializing in sex crimes, to question Ford. Questions ranged from timing of the [sexual assault] incident to the other individuals Ford had alleged were involved.
Kavanaugh’s testimony followed in the afternoon, fevertly denying the allegations. In his opening statement, the nominee called the situation “a calculated and orchestrated political hit [from the Democrats]” and “a circus.” When it appeared that Mitchell was objectively questioning the nominee, Republican members of the committee abandoned the hired prosecutor.
Republican members from the Judiciary Committee took a strong stance against their Democratic colleagues. Shortly after Senator Dick Durban’s [D-IL] aggressive line of questioning, Senator Lindsey Graham [R-SC] shouted, “What you want to do is destroy this guy’s life, hold his seat open, and hope you win in 2020.”
Perhaps one of the most dramatic moments that lead to the Friday’s outcome occurred outside the Senate chamber room. On Friday morning, Senator Jeff Flake [R-AZ] was confronted by two protestors at an elevator, holding the doors open. In a video recording, Flake was seen with his head down, while a protestor passionately described her experience with sexual assault. The protester called for Flake’s attention, saying, “You’re telling me that my assault doesn’t matter, that what happened to me doesn’t matter, that you’re going to let people who do these things into power.”
Flake, originally considered as a “yes” vote for Kavanaugh, continued to vote for Kavanaugh to move onto the Senate. However, he was firm in saying that he would not vote for the nominee without a complete FBI investigation of the alleged allegation. Shortly after, other undecided Senators, Susan Collins [R-ME] and Lisa Murkowski [R-AK], also supported the idea of the investigation.
Despite talks of possibly finding replacement for Kavanaugh amongst Trump administration officials, those plans did not gain any traction as President Trump continued to voice his support for the nominee. On Saturday, before departing for a rally in West Virginia, President Trump said, “I don’t need a backup plan. We’ll have to see what happens. I think he will be fine.”