Flake says he will vote to confirm Kavanaugh

GOP Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeCheney clashes with Trump Sessions-Tuberville Senate runoff heats up in Alabama GOP lawmakers stick to Trump amid new criticism MORE (Ariz.) said on Friday that he is supporting Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination, giving Kavanaugh a significant boost as Republicans try to confirm him early next week.

“While some may argue that a different standard should apply regarding the Senate’s advice and consent responsibilities, I believe that the Constitution’s provisions of fairness and due process apply here as well. I will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh,” Flake said.

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Flake’s decision comes less than a day after an emotional, hours-long hearing where both Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, a woman accusing him of sexual assault, testified for hours before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Flake called her testimony “compelling” but said he still had doubts after the hearing.

“I wish that I could express the confidence that some of my colleagues have conveyed about what either did or did not happen in the early 1980s, but I left the hearing yesterday with as much doubt as certainty,” he said.

It means Kavanaugh will get the support needed to be reported favorably by the panel, which is scheduled to hold a vote on the nomination on Friday morning.

Republicans hold a one-seat advantage on the committee. Flake was the only GOP vote in question in the wake of the Thursday hearing, after which he told reporters that was still trying to “chase down a few things.”

Flake’s announcement doesn’t guarantee that Kavanaugh will ultimately be confirmed. Republicans hold a narrow 51-49 margin in the Senate. Two other Republicans — moderate Sens. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSenators holding behind-the-scenes talks on breaking coronavirus package stalemate Senate votes to confirm Energy's No. 2 official 300 green groups say Senate has 'moral duty' to reject Trump's public lands nominee MORE (Alaska) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsUnemployment debate sparks GOP divisions Obama announces first wave of 2020 endorsements Senate GOP divided over whether they'd fill Supreme Court vacancy  MORE (Maine) — remained undecided after the committee hearing.

"I am going to go home, have some dinner and have a chance to think about all that's gone on," Murkowski told reporters on Thursday night, asked how she was feeling about the hearing.

Republicans can lose one senator before they would need help from Democrats to confirm Kavanaugh.

No Democrat has yet to say they will support him, and several red-state Democrats considered potential "yes" votes are under a mountain of pressure after Ford's allegation of sexual assault, as well as two others, became public. Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) became the latest Democrat to announce he would oppose Kavanaugh.

Red-state Democratic Sens. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyEx-Sen. Joe Donnelly endorses Biden Lobbying world 70 former senators propose bipartisan caucus for incumbents MORE (Ind.), 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 (N.D.) and Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump signs major conservation bill into law | Senate votes to confirm Energy's No. 2 official | Trump Jr. expresses opposition to Pebble Mine project Trump signs major conservation bill into law Overnight Defense: Embattled Pentagon policy nominee withdraws, gets appointment to deputy policy job | Marines, sailor killed in California training accident identified | Governors call for extension of funding for Guard's coronavirus response MORE (W.Va.) remain undecided.

Even if Flake had voted "no" and blocked Kavanaugh from winning a positive stamp of approval from the committee, GOP leadership had signaled they would use other procedural options to get Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Senate floor.

“I will be proud to vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh when the full Senate votes on his nomination in the coming days,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump's election delay red herring On The Money: Unemployment debate sparks GOP divisions | Pandemic reveals flaws of unemployment insurance programs | Survey finds nearly one-third of rehired workers laid off again OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump signs major conservation bill into law | Senate votes to confirm Energy's No. 2 official | Trump Jr. expresses opposition to Pebble Mine project MORE (R-Ky.) said on Thursday night even as Republicans remained short of the votes needed to confirm Kavanaugh.