Flake plans to support Kavanaugh after FBI investigates ‘unless they turn up something’

Anna Moneymaker

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) says he plans to support Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination unless the FBI investigation into sexual assault allegations against the Supreme Court nominee reveals wrongdoing.

“I’m a conservative. He’s a conservative. I plan to support him unless they turn up something — and they might,” Flake told The Atlantic for an article published Saturday.

The GOP senator’s comments came hours after he forced a weeklong FBI investigation into allegations against Kavanaugh, saying he would agree to allow Kavanaugh’s nomination to advance from the Senate Judiciary Committee if the FBI could investigate.

President Trump agreed to a Senate GOP leader’s request for an FBI investigation on Friday afternoon, ordering a “supplemental” background check “limited in scope and completed in less than one week.”

{mosads}Flake late Friday expressed concern with Kavanaugh’s confirmation process, particularly with the partisanship displayed in hearings held by the Judiciary Committee. 

“We can’t just have the committee acting like this. The majority and minority parties and their staffs just don’t work well together. There’s no trust. In the investigation, they can’t issue subpoenas like they should. It’s just falling apart,” he told The Atlantic.

The latest twist in Kavanaugh’s tumultuous nomination came Friday when Flake forced the Senate to delay his nomination to allow the FBI to investigate claims of sexual misconduct going back to Kavanaugh’s high school days.

After releasing a press release saying he would vote to confirm Kavanaugh, two women confronted Flake in an elevator and told him their stories of being sexually assaulted, a conversation Flake called “poignant.” 

After announcing he’d vote with Republicans to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Senate floor, Flake suggested he’d withhold his ultimate confirmation vote unless the FBI opened an investigation into the allegations. 

He was soon joined by Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), who are all undecided on Kavanaugh’s nomination.

With a 51-49 majority in the Senate, Republicans can only afford one defection if the Democratic caucus unanimously votes against Kavanaugh, allowing Vice President Pence to break a tie.

Friday’s drama on Capitol Hill came a day after a rollercoaster hearing before the Judiciary Committee, in which Christine Blasey Ford delivered gripping testimony accusing Kavanaugh of pinning her to a bed and trying to remove her clothes during a house gathering in 1982 when they were in high school.

Kavanaugh forcefully denied the allegations during his own appearance before the committee later in the day Thursday, while decrying his Senate confirmation as a “national disgrace.”

“It was a sleepless night. I was getting calls and emails for days from friends and acquaintances saying, ‘Here’s my story, here’s why I was emboldened to come out.’ Dr. Ford’s testimony struck a chord, it really did, with a lot of women,” Flake told The Atlantic.

Flake also revealed that former President George W. Bush, whom Kavanaugh served under in the White House, had called him and other GOP senators to lobby their support.

“He obviously worked closely with Brett so he’s a big fan. And he’s called me and a number of my colleagues,” Flake said, adding that he’s spoken with the former president “a few times in the past few weeks.”

Tags Donald Trump Heidi Heitkamp Jeff Flake Joe Manchin Lisa Murkowski Susan Collins

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