Politics

Flake Announces He Will Vote to Confirm Kavanaugh, Includes Caveat Friday Afternoon

(Updated)

Sen. Jeff Flake
Sen. Jeff Flake / Getty Images

Sen. Jeff Flake (R., Ariz.) announced Friday morning he would vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. He later voted too advance Kavanaugh's nomination to Senate floor but called for a one-week delay on a floor vote for an FBI investigation.

Flake's support is crucial to Kavanaugh's hopes to ascend to the high court, and the outgoing Republican lawmaker had been on the fence on Kavanaugh's confirmation since allegations of sexual misconduct against him emerged in the last two weeks.

Flake said in a statement Friday morning that he left Thursday's emotional Senate Judiciary Committee hearing featuring testimony from Kavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, with "as much certainty as doubt," but he believed due process was significant in the end.

"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.

He added he was prepared to support his nomination before the allegations came forward based on his "view of the law and his record as a judge."

After speaking with Democratic senators on Friday, however, Flake said a limited FBI investigation–something many Democrats have called for–was appropriate and should be conducted before a confirmation vote.

"I believe it would be proper to delay the floor vote for up to but not more than one week in order to let the FBI continue to do an investigation, limited in time and scope, to the current allegations that are there," he said.

Flake, who is not running for re-election this fall, is one of three key Republican votes who was viewed as on the fence. He has been one of President Donald Trump's strongest critics in the party.

Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska) and Susan Collins (R., Maine) have not said how they will vote. If both voted nay, and all 49 Senators caucusing with Democrats also voted down Kavanaugh, he would not be confirmed.

In a scene that played out live on CNN, a sexual assault victim confronted Flake about his vote in the Senate elevator on Friday, demanding he look her in the eyes.

"Look at me and tell me that it doesn't matter what happens to me," she said, crying.

Flake's decision Friday followed a raw day of testimony on Thursday by Kavanaugh and Ford, who has accused him of sexually assaulting her at a party in the early 1980s. She said she was "100 percent" sure it was Kavanaugh who attacked her and the incident had haunted her ever since.

Kavanaugh denied the accusations in a remarkable display, at times growing tearful and at other times angrily attacking Democrats and the media for destroying him and his family with spurious charges.

UPDATE 3:38 P.M.: Updated with Flake's call later in the day Friday for there to be an FBI investigation.