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.
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 CollinsLooking to the past to secure America's clean energy future Collins to endorse LePage in Maine governor comeback bid McConnell privately urged GOP senators to oppose debt ceiling hike MORE (R-Maine) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiGOP warns McConnell won't blink on debt cliff Graham tries to help Trump and McConnell bury the hatchet Trump, allies launch onslaught as midterms kick into gear MORE (R-Alaska) to pressure Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHow the Democratic Party's campaign strategy is failing America GOP should grab the chance to upend Pelosi's plan on reconciliation We don't need platinum to solve the debt ceiling crisis 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 TrumpCheney says a lot of GOP lawmakers have privately encouraged her fight against Trump Republicans criticizing Afghan refugees face risks DeVos says 'principles have been overtaken by personalities' in GOP 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.