STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Judiciary Committee votes on Kavanaugh

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted on Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court, setting up a final vote in the full Senate. The vote was preceded by a request from Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) for an FBI investigation into the allegations against Kavanaugh before the full Senate votes on his confirmation.

Posted: Sep 30, 2018 2:58 AM
Updated: Sep 30, 2018 3:09 AM

Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation was suddenly thrown into doubt Friday after Republicans and the White House agreed to a one-week delay so that the FBI can investigate sexual assault allegations facing President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee.

"I've ordered the FBI to conduct a supplemental investigation to update Judge Kavanaugh's file," Trump said in a statement. "As the Senate has requested, this update must be limited in scope and completed in less than one week."

Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake first made the demand for the FBI probe after a chaotic scene at a Judiciary Committee meeting in which the panel advanced Kavanaugh by a 11-10 party line vote. Swing votes Alaska GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Maine GOP Sen. Susan Collins and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin subsequently backed an FBI investigation before they'll vote to confirm Kavanaugh.

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, said there would still be a procedural vote to move ahead with Kavanaugh's confirmation in the Senate on Saturday, with an agreement for the FBI investigation. The Judiciary Committee said the FBI should investigate "current credible allegations" against Kavanaugh, but it is unclear which allegations the committee considers credible.

The tumult came just hours after Kavanaugh appeared to be on solid footing, with Republicans rallying to his side after his denials of Christine Blasey Ford's allegation in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Thursday.

Kavanaugh has denied the allegations against him. In a statement Friday, he said he would "continue to cooperate" with the FBI.

"Throughout this process, I've been interviewed by the FBI, I've done a number of 'background' calls directly with the Senate, and yesterday, I answered questions under oath about every topic the Senators and their counsel asked me," Kavanaugh said. "I've done everything they have requested and will continue to cooperate."

Friday's dramatic events follow wrenching, partisan hearing Thursday where Christine Blasey Ford detailed her sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh and he vehemently denied them.

Ford's attorney welcomed the new investigation but criticized the time frame.

"A thorough FBI investigation is critical to developing all the relevant facts," said Debra Katz. "Dr. Christine Blasey Ford welcomes this step in the process, and appreciates the efforts of Senators Flake, Murkowski, Manchin and Collins -- and all other senators who have supported an FBI investigation -- to ensure it is completed before the Senate votes on Judge Kavanaugh's nomination. No artificial limits as to time or scope should be imposed on this investigation."

Kavanaugh, a Republican who played a lead role in the Ken Starr investigation of Bill Clinton's sexual misconduct and later worked in former President George W. Bush's White House, is a DC Circuit Court of Appeals judge. He would replace the retiring Supreme Court swing vote, Justice Anthony Kennedy, possibly cementing a conservative majority for a generation.

Flake changes his mind

On Friday morning, Flake -- who had been seen as one of three swing votes in a Republican caucus that can only afford to lose one vote -- announced he would support Kavanaugh's confirmation.

Then, on the way to the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing room, he was involved in a dramatic confrontation, when two protesters blocked Flake's elevator. By voting to confirm Kavanaugh, "you're telling me that my assault doesn't matter," one tearfully told him live on CNN, as Flake listened and nodded.

Inside the committee room an hour from Friday's scheduled 1:30 p.m. vote, Flake tapped his friend Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, on the shoulder, and the two retreated to a private anteroom. It set off an hour of frantic behind-the-scenes negotiations, as questions about whether Flake had changed his mind hovered.

"Jeff said, 'I'm concerned that we are tearing the country apart,'" Coons told CNN. "That the powerful testimony of Dr. Ford did not seem to be taken seriously and investigated -- and that Judge Kavanaugh and his family were distraught by allegations that weren't credible."

When Flake emerged, he announced his position: He'd vote for Kavanaugh Friday -- giving the committee an 11-10 majority to send him on to the Senate floor -- but wouldn't vote for him in the full Senate unless the FBI could investigate first.

"We ought to do what we can to make sure that we do all due diligence with a nomination this important," he said.

Flake confronted by two female protesters after announcing he'll back Kavanaugh

There was no guarantee at the time an FBI probe would happen, however.

"This is all gentlemen's and women's agreement," Grassley said after the vote to committee members.

Before Flake's maneuver, Senate Republican leaders appeared Friday morning to have 49 solid yes votes, one shy of the 50 they need to confirm Kavanaugh -- meaning they could lose one Republican and have Vice President Mike Pence break a potential tie.

Dramatic committee meeting

Shortly after the vote time was set by committee Republicans on Friday in a meeting that started at 9:30 a.m. and Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley began reading a statement praising Kavanaugh, California Sen. Kamala Harris led several Democrats in walking out of the hearing room. She was joined by Connecticut's Richard Blumenthal, Hawaii's Mazie Hirono, Rhode Island's Sheldon Whitehouse, and later, Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy.

"From top to bottom this has been about bullies," Harris told reporters outside the committee room. "Dr. Ford came in and she poured out her heart. She cooperated with the process. She gave the process dignity and respect. The least we could do is give her the dignity and respect of a process that has credibility."

"I'm not going to participate in this charade anymore," Hirono said.

Republicans responded angrily, saying they believed Kavanaugh's denial of Ford's allegation.

"I'm a single white male from South Carolina, and I'm told I should just shut up, but I will not shut up," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, said Friday.

He said he feels sorry for Ford, "but I don't believe it was Brett Kavanaugh" who assaulted her.

"Everything I know about Judge Kavanaugh screams that this didn't happen," Graham said.

Wrenching hearing

During an intense, day-long hearing Thursday, Ford, a California professor, testified that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her while they were both teenagers in the early 1980s. Kavanaugh later offered a vociferous and emotional defense, alternately shouting and tearing up on national television.

On Thursday, Ford told the committee she is "100%" certain it was Kavanaugh who attacked her at a party when the two were teenagers in 1982.

As the nation watched, she said she "believed he was going to rape me." She told senators it has "haunted me episodically as an adult."

Then, Kavanaugh denied that allegation and other accusations of sexual misconduct he has faced in recent days. He blamed Democrats for what he said was a "calculated and orchestrated political hit" designed to keep him off the Supreme Court. He also refused to support a Democratic push for an FBI investigation of the allegations.

"I've never done this," Kavanaugh said of Ford's assault charge. "It's not who I am. I am innocent."

Late Thursday night, the American Bar Association took the extraordinary step of recommending the Senate Judiciary Committee pause on Kavanaugh's nomination until a FBI probe into the allegations is completed. The association had previously given Kavanaugh a unanimous "well-qualified" rating, its highest rating.

"The basic principles that underscore the Senate's constitutional duty of advice and consent on federal judicial nominees require nothing less than a careful examination of the accusations and facts by the FBI," said Robert Carlson, president of the organization, in a Thursday night letter.

"Each appointment to our nation's Highest Court (as with all others) is simply too important to rush to a vote," Carlson wrote. "Deciding to proceed without conducting additional investigation would not only have a lasting impact on the Senate's reputation, but it will also negatively affect the great trust necessary for the American people to have in the Supreme Court."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 32078

Reported Deaths: 2004
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion9268539
Lake3320168
Cass15826
Allen130966
St. Joseph120534
Hendricks113067
Hamilton111592
Johnson1086104
Elkhart105728
Madison58258
Porter49021
Bartholomew48133
Clark46138
LaPorte41522
Tippecanoe3753
Jackson3671
Howard36519
Delaware35735
Hancock32127
Shelby31521
Floyd31438
Boone28835
Morgan26224
Vanderburgh2482
Montgomery23117
White2268
Decatur22431
Clinton2221
Grant19121
Noble18921
Harrison18721
Dubois1852
Greene16724
Warrick16426
Dearborn16421
Henry1619
Monroe16011
Vigo1477
Lawrence14423
Miami1391
Putnam1337
Jennings1274
Orange12422
Scott1183
Ripley1126
Franklin1068
Kosciusko941
Carroll922
Daviess8216
Steuben802
Marshall761
Newton7410
Wabash722
Wayne715
Fayette684
LaGrange602
Jasper581
Washington521
Fulton471
Rush452
Jay440
Randolph433
Jefferson411
Whitley402
Pulaski390
Clay391
Owen341
Brown331
Sullivan321
Starke313
DeKalb311
Perry260
Huntington262
Knox250
Tipton251
Benton250
Wells240
Crawford230
Blackford211
Switzerland190
Fountain182
Spencer171
Posey170
Parke170
Gibson142
Ohio130
Warren121
Adams121
Vermillion90
Martin90
Union80
Pike60
Unassigned0154

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 113195

Reported Deaths: 4923
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook738193354
Lake7767250
DuPage7290340
Kane5866153
Will5238258
Winnebago199351
McHenry145268
St. Clair101773
Kankakee80242
Kendall72719
Rock Island63922
Champaign5697
Madison54056
Boone40716
Sangamon33226
DeKalb3313
Randolph2593
Jackson22810
McLean21210
Stephenson1952
Ogle1922
Macon18819
Peoria1858
Clinton17816
Out of IL1771
Union1417
LaSalle14013
Whiteside13310
Iroquois1314
Unassigned1200
Coles1159
Warren1140
Jefferson10116
Knox950
Monroe9211
Grundy892
McDonough835
Lee761
Tazewell683
Cass670
Henry670
Williamson541
Marion500
Jasper457
Adams441
Macoupin421
Perry410
Pulaski400
Montgomery391
Vermilion391
Morgan341
Christian334
Livingston312
Douglas280
Jo Daviess270
Fayette203
Ford201
Jersey201
Washington180
Woodford182
Mason170
Menard170
Shelby161
Bureau151
Hancock150
Mercer150
Carroll132
Franklin120
Piatt120
Crawford110
Fulton110
Bond101
Brown100
Clark100
Cumberland100
Logan100
Moultrie100
Schuyler100
Wayne91
Alexander80
Henderson80
Johnson70
Massac70
Saline70
Effingham61
Greene50
Marshall50
De Witt40
Lawrence40
Richland30
Stark30
Clay20
Edwards20
Gallatin20
Hamilton20
Wabash20
White20
Calhoun10
Hardin10
Pike10
Pope10
Putnam10
Edgar00
Terre Haute
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 66°
Robinson
Clear
67° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 67°
Indianapolis
Broken Clouds
69° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 69°
Rockville
Clear
62° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 62°
Casey
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 66°
Brazil
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 66°
Marshall
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 66°
Showers Likely
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events