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Senate Panel Confirms Kavanaugh Nomination in 11-10 Vote; Full Senate Vote May be Delayed for FBI Probe

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The Senate Judiciary Committee voted along party lines Friday afternoon in their confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and advanced it to a floor vote on the Senate, though it is requesting a one-week FBI investigation of the charges against Kavanaugh at the behest of Republican Arizona senator Jeff Flake.

Shortly after the committee convened Friday, it voted 11 to 10 along party lines to reject a motion by Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal to subpoena Mark Judge, who Ford said witnessed Kavanaugh’s alleged sexual assault at a house party when they were high school students in the early 1980s.

This follows a day of dramatic testimony by the appellate judge and Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who has accused him of sexual assault.

Flake, the only swing Republican vote on the committee, said Friday he would vote for Kavanaugh after saying the day before he was still undecided.

Soon after Flake announced he’d vote to confirm Kavanaugh, two women cornered him in an elevator as he headed back to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Through tears, the women implored him to change his mind about his Kavanaugh vote.

The confrontation could be seen in TV footage, blocking the Arizona senator from closing the elevator door. One woman begged Flake to look him in the eye. She said: “Look at me and tell me that it doesn’t matter what happened to me.”

Another woman said Flake was allowing someone who “violated someone” to serve on the Supreme Court. Both women cried as they spoke to him. Flake did not respond. He looked at them and looked at the ground as he listened.

“I am grateful to Senator Flake,” said Democratic Senator Chris Coons.

“It is my hope that we could work together on a bipartisan basis to diligently pursue an FBI investigation within the next week, not for the purpose of delay but for the purpose of investigating further – either allegations made by Dr. Ford or others,” Coons added.

It is not clear if the Republicans will have enough votes for their nominee after the impassioned testimony Thursday when Kavanaugh angrily denied a charge of sexually assaulting Ford at a party in 1982 when they were teenagers. Both told their stories to the Senate Judiciary Committee during a nearly nine-hour-long hearing.

Late Thursday, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee announced he would also vote to confirm Kavanaugh. While he said it took courage for Ford to testify, there was no evidence to corroborate her allegations.

Senator Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat from North Dakota, also said she needs time to decide how she will vote. She is running for re-election in a state that voted heavily for President Donald Trump.

Senator Doug Jones, a first-term Democrat from Alabama, said he is voting no on Kavanaugh’s bid for the Supreme Court. “The Kavanaugh nomination process has been flawed from the beginning,” he said, adding that Ford was credible and courageous.

The American Bar Association late Thursday urged the Judiciary committee and the full Senate to delay the vote until the FBI has time to do a full background check on the claims made by Ford and other women.

“We make this request because of the ABA’s respect for the rule of law and due process under law,” the ABA letter to committee leadership said. “Each appointment to our nation’s highest court as with all others is simply too important to rush to a vote.”

Also on Friday, President Trump said from the Oval office while meeting with Chilean President Sebastian Pinera that he thought that Christine Blasey Ford was a “credible witness” and deferred to the Senate on whether to delay a vote on his confirmation.

“I thought her testimony was very compelling and she looks like a very fine woman to me,” Trump said. “I thought that Brett’s testimony, likewise, was really something that I haven’t seen before, it was incredible,” Trump said. “I think it will work out very well for the country.”

“I will be totally reliant on what Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley and the group decides to do,” Trump said. “They have to do what they think is right. They have to be comfortable with themselves.”

Ultimately, it would be up to Trump to ask the FBI to reopen its background investigation into Kavanaugh. The president has not yet done so.

Trump indicated he was sticking with Kavanaugh’s nomination, saying he has not thought “even a little bit” about a replacement for his nominee.

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