Trump orders new FBI investigation into Kavanaugh after Senate request

President TrumpDonald John TrumpSanders says he wouldn't 'drop dead' if Trump decided on universal healthcare Overnight Health Care: Trump officials lay groundwork for May reopening | Democrats ramp up talks with Mnuchin on next relief deal | Fauci says death toll could be around 60,000 Hillicon Valley: State officials push for more election funds | Coronavirus surveillance concerns ramp up pressure for privacy bill | Senators warned not to use Zoom | Agencies ask FCC to revoke China Telecom's license MORE on Friday asked the FBI to investigate sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh after Senate Republicans agreed to a one-week investigation, temporarily delaying his nomination to the Supreme Court.

“I’ve ordered the FBI to conduct a supplemental investigation to update Judge Kavanaugh’s file. As the Senate has requested, this update must be limited in scope and completed in less than one week,” Trump said in the statement released by the White House.

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday afternoon requested that Trump instruct the FBI to conduct the supplemental investigation after Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeMcSally campaign to suspend TV ads, canvassing amid pandemic Coronavirus isn't the only reason Congress should spend less time in DC Trump Jr. says he inherited 'Tourette's of the thumbs' from his father MORE (R-Ariz.) and others called for the move.

ADVERTISEMENT

Flake said the FBI should conduct an investigation that is “limited in scope,” and said it should focus solely on credible accusations against Kavanaugh and last no longer than a week.

Multiple senators, including Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsTwo Democrats roll out bill to protect inspectors general from politically motivated firing Senators demand more details from Trump on intel watchdog firing Senators push for changes to small business aid MORE (R-Maine), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiHouse Republicans threaten pushback on Saudi Arabia amid oil market slump Zoom, grocery delivery, self-isolation: How lawmakers are surviving coronavirus Lawmakers announce legislation to fund government purchases of oil MORE (R-Alaska), Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinCoronavirus watch: Southern states begin to see rise in cases Democratic senators call for funding for local media in coronavirus stimulus Politicians mourn the death of Bill Withers MORE (D-W.Va.) and Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn Heitkamp70 former senators propose bipartisan caucus for incumbents Susan Collins set to play pivotal role in impeachment drama Pro-trade group launches media buy as Trump and Democrats near deal on new NAFTA MORE (D-N.D.) soon followed. All of those senators are still undecided on Flake's nomination.

After Flake released an initial statement Friday morning saying he would vote to confirm Kavanaugh, protesters confronted the senator to tell them their own stories of sexual assault.

Flake appeared visibly shaken by the encounters and met with Democrats in a backroom, announcing his call for an FBI probe shortly after.

After outlining his call for the supplemental FBI investigation, Flake then joined other Republicans on the Judiciary Committee on Friday in voting to send Kavanaugh's nomination to the full Senate.

The move marks a stark reversal for Republicans, many of whom voiced strong opposition in recent days to requesting an FBI investigation.

“If you wanted an FBI investigation, you could have come to us. What you want to do is destroy this guy’s life, hold this seat open, and hope you win in 2020,” Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamBipartisan senators call on China to close all wet markets Bipartisan lawmakers call for global 'wet markets' ban amid coronavirus crisis Trump attacks WHO amid criticism of his coronavirus response MORE (R-S.C.), who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, shouted at ranking member Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinKudlow slams senators who allegedly traded stock before pandemic Senators demand more details from Trump on intel watchdog firing Zoom, grocery delivery, self-isolation: How lawmakers are surviving coronavirus MORE (D-Calif.) during the hearings on Thursday. 

Republicans are set to hold a procedural vote on Kavanaugh's nomination on Saturday, though a final vote set for early next week is likely to be delayed to allow the FBI investigation to wrap up.

Democrats had been calling for such an investigation for days and received GOP support following a rollercoaster day on Capitol Hill on Thursday, when Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford testified before the Judiciary panel.

Ford delivered gripping testimony outlining her allegation that Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed and tried to remove her clothes during a house gathering in 1982 when she and Kavanaugh were high schoolers.

While Ford has been the only one to testify before the Judiciary panel, two other woman came forward this week to accuse the nominee of misconduct stemming from his time in high school and college.

It wasn't immediately clear if the FBI investigation would focus solely on Ford's allegations or include those from other women.

Kavanaugh, who has flatly denied the allegations, offered a forceful defense of himself during the hearing Thursday. Speaking after Ford, the nominee called his confirmation process a "national disgrace" and insisted he had never sexually assaulted anyone.

He also repeatedly declined to comply with Democrats’ requests that he call for an FBI probe.

“They don’t reach conclusions, you reach the conclusions, senator…You know that’s a phony question,” Kavanaugh told Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinSenate 'unlikely' to return on April 20, top GOP senator says Durbin: Bringing senators back in two weeks would be 'dangerous and risky' How the Senate should implement remote voting in emergencies MORE (D-Ill.).

Trump on Friday afternoon called Ford a "credible" witness and described her testimony as "compelling," but also praised Kavanaugh's performance and told reporters that he had given no thought to having another nominee.

“I thought her testimony was very compelling, and she looks like a very fine woman to me,” Trump said following a meeting with Chilean President Sebastian Pinera at the White House.

“I thought that Brett’s testimony, likewise, was really something that I haven’t seen before, it was incredible,” Trump said. “I think it will work out very well for the country.” 

The president had previously refrained from involving the FBI in the confirmation process.

“Well, it would seem that the FBI really doesn’t do that. They’ve investigated about six times before, and it seems that they don’t do that,” he said last week, referring to background checks Kavanaugh has gone through in the past.

Trump has had an at times tense relationship with the nation’s foremost law enforcement agency. He has largely focused on those in leadership positions such as former Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyIs coronavirus the final Trump crisis? Full appeals court to rehear case over McGahn subpoena Tucker Carlson: Biden's 'fading intellect' an 'opportunity' for Democrats to control him MORE and former Acting Director Andrew McCabeAndrew George McCabeTrump shakes up Justice Department, intelligence community Trump allies assembled lists of officials considered disloyal to president: report Bill Barr is trying his best to be Trump's Roy Cohn MORE, faulting them for what he calls misconduct during the 2016 presidential election.

“After years of Comey, with the phony and dishonest Clinton investigation (and more), running the FBI, its reputation is in Tatters - worst in History! But fear not, we will bring it back to greatness,” he tweeted in December.

Updated: 6:05 p.m.