Sen. Jeff Flake (R., Ariz.) voted along with Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans to advance Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation vote to the floor on Friday, but he called for a one-week delay to the final vote for an FBI investigation into a sexual assault accusation against him.
"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, adding he would vote to advance Kavanaugh "with that understanding."
Recent Stories in Politics
"I would be only comfortable moving forward on the floor … until the FBI has done more investigation than they have already," Flake said. "It may not take them a week."
Flake's language suggested he would not vote to confirm Kavanaugh without such a probe. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska) said she supported Flake's idea. That meant if they both would vote "no" without one, and all 49 Senators in the Democratic caucus voted "no," Kavanaugh would be defeated.
— Andrea Mitchell (@mitchellreports) September 28, 2018
After a dramatic day of testimony by Kavanaugh and his accuser Christine Blasey Ford on Thursday, the committee was scheduled to hold a vote at 1:30 p.m. EST on sending his nomination to the floor.
Flake, who had earlier announced he would vote "yes" on Kavanaugh, appeared to cause a delay in the proceedings and created a stir online as observers wondered what the delay was about.
He revealed he had been speaking with some Democratic senators about making sure they did "due diligence."
Flake's remarks created confusion with Democrats, who weren't sure if they were voting on an amendment with that specific recommendation. They eventually held the vote on Kavanaugh, with all 11 Republicans voting "yes" and 10 Democrats voting "no."
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) said she supported Flake's idea, while Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) noted Flake's request wasn't up to him since he isn't the majority leader.
Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) said he would "advocate" for Flake's request on the floor but could not promise more than that.
Flake, who is not running for re-election and has been a vocal opponent of President Donald Trump at times, said the "country is being ripped apart" in defending his call for a "short pause."
At the White House, Trump said he would defer to the Senate's judgment. Trump has previously not asked the FBI to investigate the sexual misconduct allegations made against Kavanaugh, which the judge has strongly denied.