Senator confronted by angry protester, calls for delay on key Kavanaugh vote

U.S. President Donald Trump appeared to be on his best behaviour Friday

Senators voted Friday to send Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination for a broader vote on Capitol Hill — but not before the man holding the swing vote helped negotiate a last-minute caveat: a week-long FBI investigation into Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations of sexual assault.

An often bitter and partisan hearing of the Senate Justice Committee, the memory of explosive testimony from the two main players still fresh in their minds, ended in a chaotic and confusing flurry of closed-door negotiations led by Arizona Republican Jeff Flake.

RELATED: Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination to go to full Senate

Flake said he, Delaware Democrat Chris Coons and others agreed to ask for the broader Senate to delay a final vote for no more than a week to allow the FBI to look into Blasey Ford’s allegations of being sexually assaulted by Kavanaugh when the two of them were teenagers.

“I think it would be proper to delay the floor vote for up to, but not more than, one week, in order to let the FBI to do an investigation, limited in time and scope, into the allegations that are there,” Flake told the committee.

“I will vote to advance the bill to the floor with that understanding.”

Following the vote, Coons said he and other Democrats wanted the extra week not to stall the confirmation process, but to investigate the allegations currently before the committee.

“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 allegations made by Dr. Ford or others.”

Flake, the swing vote on the 21-member committee, said earlier in a statement that he planned to support Kavanaugh, saying the nominee was entitled to the presumption of innocence “absent corroborating evidence.”

But he appeared to be having second thoughts as the hour for voting neared — possibly as a result of an emotional confrontation in an elevator with a pair of protesters who pleaded with him to reconsider.

RELATED: Christine Blasey Ford steps into spotlight; defiant Kavanaugh fights back

Republicans, their hand forced by the narrow margin of support for Kavanaugh, issued a statement not long afterward confirming they had agreed to a “supplemental background investigation” to be limited to “current credible allegations” and to take no longer than a week.

And U.S. President Donald Trump appeared to be on his best behaviour Friday before confirming in a statement that the White House would authorize an investigation “limited in scope” and within the time frame agreed to by the committee.

It was a surprisingly deferential Trump, sitting alongside the president of Chile, who said he would leave it to the Senate to decide on the question of a delay. “I just want it to work out well for the country. If that happens, I’m happy.”

On Thursday, the committee listened, captivated, as Blasey Ford, a California psychology professor, declared that she’s “100 per cent” certain it was Kavanaugh who tried to sexually assault her during a house party in Maryland in 1982.

Then they heard a fiery, tearful and defensive rebuttal from Kavanaugh, who denied the allegations but pointedly refused to explain to Sen. Dick Durbin (D- Ill.) why he wouldn’t support delaying the hearing indefinitely to allow an FBI investigation.

The American Bar Association, which previously gave Kavanaugh its highest rating of “well qualified,” asked the Senate committee and the full Senate to delay their votes until the FBI could do a full background check on the assault claims.

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who intervened powerfully on Kavanaugh’s behalf at one point during his testimony Thursday, declared his support for the nominee Friday with his usual brand of fiery Republican rhetoric.

Following the vote, he struck a more conciliatory tone as he acknowledged Flake’s efforts to satisfy his own conscience.

“Jeff’s trying his best to bring the country together and vote the best way he knows how,” said Graham, who was on his way to meet with Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell to discuss the arrangement.

Asked whether he believed McConnell should agree to delay the vote, Graham made it clear what’s on the line for the Republicans, who currently have a razor-thin 51-49 majority in the Senate: ”The last time I looked, you need 50 votes.”

Democrats have been clamouring for days for the hearings to be suspended to allow for an FBI investigation into the allegations, a request Republicans have largely dismissed as a delay tactic that would ultimately uncover nothing, given the extensive vetting already done on Kavanaugh.

James McCarten, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Australian gold mining giant acquires Red Chris mine

Newcrest now owns 70 per cent of the mine south of Iskut and operatorship

All Nations Driving Academy gets $360K boost from province

Terrace-based driving school bridges gap in services for remote northwest B.C. communities

Skeena Watershed reopened for recreational pink and coho

Four sections and tributaries remain closed

Skeena-Bulkley Valley candidates react to finding Trudeau broke ethics law

The election campaign is heating up before the writ has even dropped

Body of ATV rider recovered from bottom of Terrace trail

BC Coroners Service investigating death of man in his 70s

VIDEO: Could we BE any more excited? ‘Friends’ fans go crazy for merch

Movie theatres will show select episodes to mark the NBC series’ 25th anniversary

Bodies of two missing Surrey men found near Ashcroft

Ryan Provencher and Richard Scurr have been missing since July 17

Five hedgehogs quickly adopted after being left at BC SPCA

Lucky new owners picked up their pets from Maple Ridge branch on Aug. 20

B.C. cricket players get interrupted by racist remark

Community has had protocols in place for years to respond to prejudice

Groovy B.C. wedding a throwback to Woodstock ‘69

Couple hosts themed wedding 50 years after legendary festival

Nearly 50% of Canadians experience ‘post-vacation blues’: poll

48 per cent of travellers are already stressed about ‘normal life’ while still on their trip

More women may need breast cancer gene test, U.S. guidelines say

Recommendations aimed at women who’ve been treated for BRCA-related cancers and are now cancer-free

B.C. manhunt suspects left cellphone video before they died: family

Family member says Kam McLeod, Bryer Schmegelsky recorded final wishes

Most Read