A dark moment — that’s what Sen. Cory Booker called the confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh at the start of another harrowing day that ended in a delay. Correspondent Briana Vannozzi has Friday’s update.
A lot happened Friday. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 11 to 10 along partisan lines to advance Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Senate floor, but not without high stakes drama. Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake — the key deciding vote on the committee — voted yes on condition that he’d get support to delay the floor vote for up to a week to allow the FBI to investigate the sexual assault allegations leveled at Kavanaugh. This was the sticking point for Democrats during Thursday’s hearings. Flake was in and out of the committee room Friday consulting with colleagues leaving everyone speculating. Then he came back with an announcement.
“Making sure that we do due diligence here, and I think it would be proper to delay the floor vote for up to, but not more than, one week in order to let the FBI do an investigation — limited in time and scope to the current allegations that are there and limited in time to no more than one week. I will vote to advance the bill to the floor with that understanding,” Flake said.
Late Friday, Senate majority leaders agreed to the FBI probe, throwing Kavanaugh’s confirmation into doubt. This was after many Republicans rallied by Kavanaugh’s side denying allegations. As this news broke, President Donald Trump said he’d defer to the Senate on opening an investigation on Kavanaugh. The latest reports say that Trump has now ordered a new FBI probe of Kavanaugh that is “limited in scope and will last no longer than a week.”
A lot of people were wondering what ultimately led Flake to ask for the investigation after releasing a statement early Friday morning pledging his support for Kavanaugh. It may have been a rare confrontation, caught by few cameras, as Flake was heading to the committee hearing Friday morning. Two female sexual assault survivors, with tearful words, protested his vote.
“Look at me when I’m talking to you,” the protester said. “You’re telling me that my assault doesn’t matter. That what happened to me doesn’t matter, and that you’re going to let people that do these things into power.”
Several Senate Democrats walked out in protest, and some held a counter news conference. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker offered stirring words before walking out saying he couldn’t participate in the process as it stands.
“We should thoroughly investigate this before moving forward. To do any other thing is to diminish the truth, diminish the issue of sexual harassment in this country, and to again relegate ourselves to what I believe is a dark, dark element of our society. To that, sir, I will leave,” Booker said.
Majority leaders will move forward with a procedural vote Saturday to continue Kavanaugh’s confirmation with the agreement the FBI investigation will end no later than Oct. 5. The Republican caucus can only afford to lost one vote on this, so stay tuned.
Also, New Jersey’s minority leader, 83-year-old Sen. Loretta Weinberg, was inspired to share her story of assault from nearly 70 years ago, saying, “No, I’m not confused, and yes, that was a long time ago.”