Update, 2:30 PM (PT): President Donald Trump has ordered a "supplemental investigation" by the FBI into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The announcement comes less than five hours after Arizona Senator Jeff Flake voted in the Senate Judiciary Committee to move forward with confirmation proceedings, pending an FBI probe. Three other senators who are on the fence about Kavanaugh supported the call for an investigation.
Senator Jeff Flake called for a delay on the full Senate vote of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Friday but joined with other Republicans on the Judiciary Committee in voting to move forward with his confirmation. The Arizona Republican asked for a one-week delay in order to allow the FBI to continue investigating allegations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh.
“I’ve been speaking with a number of people on the other side," Flake said, after a delayed arrival to the vote. "We’ve had a number of conversations for a while to make sure we do due diligence here. 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 continue the investigation limited in time and scope to the current allegations that are there."
The committee has no power to determine when the full Senate will vote, but because Flake is a key swing vote, the Senate leaders will have to strongly consider his recommendation.
There was some confusion over whether the committee members were voting to move forward with Kavanaugh's confirmation.
"I sort of misunderstood Senator Flake," Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein said, after the vote occurred.
Flake led off the hearing by saying, "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 country's being ripped apart here ... I do think that we can have a short pause and make sure that the FBI can investigate."
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Before the hearing began, CNN reported that Flake had left with Democratic Senator Chris Coons and was gone for more than 30 minutes.
"At one point during Flake's absence, Coons returned, whispered to Feinstein’s staff director, causing quite a bit of chatter on the Democratic side," CNN reported. "Feinstein and Coons then went to the anteroom with Feinstein's staff director. It’s unclear if Flake will return to speak, since Grassley seems eager to take a break."
Earlier this morning, Flake was cornered in an elevator by sexual assault survivors who passionately implored him to not vote for Kavanaugh's confirmation.