After an 11-10 committee vote in favor of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh Sept. 28, the nomination will now head to the full Senate for confirmation. (Joyce Koh/The Washington Post)
President Trump on Friday ordered the FBI to reopen the investigation of Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh’s background, a stunning turnaround in an emotional battle over sexual assault allegations that has shaken the Senate and reverberated across the country.
The dramatic developments capped an extraordinary day on Capitol Hill, which began with a sense of momentum for Kavanaugh but then sharply changed when one of Trump’s fiercest Republican critics, Sen. Jeff Flake (Ariz.), who at first endorsed the nominee, emerged from a private meeting with Democrats to call for a renewed inquiry into misconduct allegations.
Flake’s move puts in doubt the fate of Kavanaugh, who has in recent days drawn strong support from Trump and other top Republicans, but now faces another week of scrutiny and must watch as senators in both parties endure mounting pressure from their respective bases to either rally to his side or block his confirmation.
Conservatives have demanded that Republicans confirm Trump’s second Supreme Court pick, a judge who could shift the high court to the right for a generation, or face political consequences in midterm elections in six weeks with the control of Congress at stake.
The delay once again thrusts the FBI, an increasing target of Trump’s ire, into the center of a politically charged controversy.
Flake, who at one point Friday was confronted by two women who tearfully and angrily urged him to consider the pain of sexual assault survivors, was soon joined by Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), and hailed by Democrats for forcing a one-week delay in the nomination process to allow for the federal inquiry.