Brett Kavanaugh nomination faces delay
While walking into Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's office, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, a key vote, said "yes," when asked if she supports Sen. Jeff Flake's proposal for a delay.
"Yes I do. It has to be limited in time and scope," she said.
CNN asked: And do you think it should be limited to Ford’s accusations or should it include an investigation into other allegations?
Murkowski responded: "I support the FBI having an opportunity to bring some closure to this."
Why that's important: Without Murkowski, Republicans don't have enough votes to move forward on a floor without Flake. This vote would therefore seem delayed until the FBI can do the investigation Flake has asked for.
The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 11-10 on Friday to move Kavanaugh's nomination to the full Senate. All Republicans senators voted yes and all Democrats voted no. Here's how those votes broke down:
Those in favor of confirming Kavanaugh
- Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa
- Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah
- Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina
- Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas
- Sen. Michael Lee, R-Utah
- Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas
- Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Nebraska
- Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona
- Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho
- Sen. Thom Tillis, R-North Carolina
- Sen. John Kennedy, R-Louisiana
Those opposed to confirming Kavanaugh
- Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California
- Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont
- Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois
- Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island
- Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota
- Sen. Christopher Coons, D-Delaware
- Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut
- Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii
- Sen. Cory Booker, D-New Jersey
- Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California
Sen. Jeff Flake just walked into Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office. He wouldn’t say anything as he walked in.
GOP Sens. Chuck Grassley, John Kennedy, Mike Crapo and Lindsey Graham also walked in.
Flake said he'll only vote to confirm Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh after there's an FBI investigation. But McConnell has given no commitment that he'll do that.
Right now, this is a math issue for McConnell. If Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski say they’ll support Kavanaugh on the floor, McConnell had 50 votes and doesn’t need Flake. If they endorse Flake’s position, McConnell will likely have no choice but to agree to this.
Speaking to reporters after the committee adjourned, President Trump called Ford "a very fine woman."
"I thought her testimony was very compelling and she looks like a very fine woman to me, very fine woman," Trump said.
"And I thought that Brett's testimony likewise was really something that I hadn't seen before. It was an incredible moment I think in the history of our country. But certainly she was a very credible witness."
Trump, who met with the Chilean president on Friday, noted that he couldn't attend the hearings, but that "I think it will work out very well for the country. I just want it to work out well for the country. If it happens, I'm happy."
He also deferred to the Senate on the question of reopening an investigation.
"I'm going to let the Senate handle that. They will make their decisions,” Trump said. “They'll do a good job. I'm just hearing a little bit about it... Whatever they think is necessary they will do.”
Watch it here:
Jeff Flake had barely finished speaking before Sen. Chuck Grassley cut him off, adjourning the committee. "Because of the two-hour rule, we're adjourned," Grassley said. There was a moment of silence, before Sen. Feinstein asked incredulously, "What?"
Flake seemed to be surprised, too.
Sen. Dianne Feinstin then turned to Grassley to argue there was no vote, to which Grassley replied, "We had to get this all done by 2:00."
"Well, is it done? Is Flake's argument going to happen or did you cut off a vote?" Feinstein asked.
"We didn't have a motion," Grassley said. "This is all a gentlemen and women's agreement."
Feinstein repeated "a gentleman and women's agreement..." then cut off a colleague who interrupted. "Let him say what he's committed to," she said, as the microphones cut off.
During yesterday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Sen. Chris Coons asked Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh about the possibility of waiting a week for an FBI investigation.
Here's how that exchange went down:
Kavanaugh: When you say a week delay, you know how long the last 10 days have been?
Coons: Probably an eternity.
Coons: But in the Judge Thomas confirmation hearing —
Kavanaugh: For us everyday —
Coons: It was a four-day delay.
Kavanaugh: has been a lifetime. And you know, yes, and it’s been investigated and all four witnesses say it didn’t happen. And they’ve said it under penalty of felony, and I’ve produced my calendars which show, you know, a lot — that’s important evidence and you act like — I mean, the last 10 days I asked for a hearing the day after the allegation.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina — who turned heads at Thursday's hearing with an impassioned defense of Judge Brett Kavanaugh — spoke to reporters after Republican Sen. Jeff Flake called for an FBI investigation prior to a full Senate vote.
"I think Democrats will say, if we do what Jeff said, that would end the process dispute, at least a few of them. I don't expect any of them to vote for the guy but if we ask the FBI to look at what's in front of us, no later than a week, no longer than a week, they would say that would be a better process, that would be progress. And Jeff's trying his best to bring the country together and vote the best way he knows how."
When asked about what would happen next, Graham said: "I'm not speaking for Mitch. I'm going to talk with Jeff. Somebody's got to explain this to Trump. So I guess that will be my job."
A lot just happened, there's no doubt about that.
There was some drama when Sen. Jeff Flake went missing from the meeting room and then came back -- with a condition on his "yes" vote.
So here's where things stand, as far as we can tell:
- Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination has been approved. It now heads to the floor.
- Sen. Jeff Flake voted yes on the grounds that he would get support to request a floor vote delay and a one week FBI investigation.
- However, Flake has been given NO commitment by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
- If McConnell moves forward without that investigation, Flake will vote against Kavanaugh.
- Whether this happens or not rests with senators such as Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, who have not announced how they plan to vote.
Sen. Jeff Flake just spoke for a few minutes to explain what it was he is trying to accomplish. We'll let him speak for himself.
Here's Flake, in his own words:
I'm simply stating the discussion that we had between us all is that I would hope and I think we had some agreement before that the Democrats who have been -- I think -- justifiably uncomfortable moving ahead, could publicly, in an effort to bring this country together, say that we would feel better.... I'm not expecting them to vote yes... but not to complain that an FBI investigation has not occurred. This is what I'm trying to do. This country is being ripped apart here. We've got to make sure that we do due diligence.