Flake to vote 'yes' on Kavanaugh

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who delayed Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination in dramatic fashion last week, announced Friday that he would vote to confirm him.

Flake made his position known after a procedural vote on Friday morning.

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Flake announced his support for Kavanaugh last week shortly before the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to advance his nomination to the floor. But after being confronted in a Senate elevator by two women saying they were victims of sexual assault, Flake struck a deal with Democrats on the Judiciary Committee to delay a floor vote for a week to give the FBI time to investigate assault allegations against Kavanaugh.

He was hailed as a hero by liberals when he teamed up with GOP moderates Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenate gears up for battle over witnesses in impeachment trial McConnell: I doubt any GOP senator will vote to impeach Trump Democrats spend big to put Senate in play MORE (R-Maine) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSenate gears up for battle over witnesses in impeachment trial McConnell: I doubt any GOP senator will vote to impeach Trump Potential Dem defectors face pressure on impeachment MORE (R-Alaska) to pressure Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate gears up for battle over witnesses in impeachment trial McConnell: I doubt any GOP senator will vote to impeach Trump McConnell says he'll be in 'total coordination' with White House on impeachment trial strategy MORE (R-Ky.) to postpone a floor vote on Kavanaugh to give the FBI time to investigate sexual assault allegations.

After reviewing the FBI report Thursday, however, Flake said there was nothing in it to back up the allegations from Christine Blasey Ford, who says Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a party in the early 1980s when they were both in high school.

“Thus far we’ve seen no new credible corroboration, no new corroboration at all,” Flake said Thursday.

Republicans hold a 51-49 advantage in the Senate and cannot afford to lose more than one GOP senator without needing to rely on Democratic support to confirm Kavanaugh on Saturday afternoon. Murkowski voted against proceeding with Kavanaugh's nomination on Friday morning, and Collins is expected to announce Friday afternoon how she plans on voting Saturday.

Flake is considered a possible GOP challenger to President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate gears up for battle over witnesses in impeachment trial Vulnerable Democrats tout legislative wins, not impeachment Trump appears to set personal record for tweets in a day MORE in 2020. Last weekend, he traveled to New Hampshire, a key early primary state.

The Arizona senator, who is retiring at the end of this term in early January, would be considered a long shot in defeating Trump during the primaries, and a vote to sink a conservative nominee who will shape the Supreme Court for years to come could kill any 2020 presidential ambitions as a GOP candidate.

Updated at 1:18 p.m.