Probe ordered in Kavanaugh case
Grassley bows to intense pressure and asks the president to order the new background review that ‘must be completed no later than one week from today’
WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump, under intense pressure from moderates in his own party, on Friday ordered an FBI investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh at the request of Senate Republicans.
The move that will delay the contentious confirmation process by a week.
The key player in a day of dramatic and unexpected developments was Senator Jeff Flake, a moderate Republican retiring from the Senate in January who provided the decisive vote to approve Kavanaugh’s nomination in the Judiciary Committee and send the matter to the full Senate.
But Flake, after urgent consultations with colleagues including Democratic Senator Chris Coons, cast the vote only after asking the Republican-led panel to request that the Trump administration pursue an FBI probe lasting up to seven days of the explosive allegations against Kavanaugh.
Trump, who had previously rebuffed Democratic demands for an FBI probe, granted the request, ordering the “supplemental investigation” to be “limited in scope and completed in less than one week.”
“Just started, tonight, our 7th FBI investigation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh. He will someday be recognised as a truly great Justice of The United States Supreme Court!,” Trump said in a Twitter post late on Friday.
WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump ordered a new FBI investigation into sexual assault allegations against his Supreme Court pick on Friday, as the Senate delayed a vote on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to make way for the probe.
After a dramatic day-long hearing at which a university professor accused Kavanaugh of pinning her down and assaulting her at a party in the 1980s, the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier Friday approved his nomination in a preliminary vote along party lines.
But committee chair Chuck Grassley then bowed to intense pressure from inside and outside Congress and announced he was asking Trump to order the new background review that “must be completed no later than one week from today.”
Trump, who repeatedly blasted Democratic opposition to Kavanaugh as a political “con-job,” agreed.
“I’ve ordered the FBI to conduct a supplemental investigation to update JUDGE KAVANAUGH’S ile. As THE SENATE has requested, this update must be limited in scope and completed in less than one week,” the president said in a statement.
He later tweeted support for Kavanaugh on Friday night, saying that the FBI investigation had “just started.”
Trump’s order and the decision to put OFF A inal vote CAME AFTER A key Republican senator, Jeff Flake, threatened to break ranks with his party because of the clouds hanging over Kavanaugh’s head.
At least three women have now accused the 53-year-old conservative judge of sexual misconduct while drunk, as a high school and later a university student.
Democrats have repeatedly demanded those charges be assessed by the FBI to determine if he is suitable for the lifetime high court appointment.
Flake’s stunning 11th-hour move played out on national television amid heated partisan debate and raucous protests in the halls of the Capitol, where several women cornered the Arizona senator in an elevator demanding he oppose Kavanaugh.
“This country’s being ripped apart,” said Flake. “And we have to ensure that we do due diligence here.”
“There’s lingering doubt out there among a lot of people that we haven’t taken every measure that we should to make sure that these allegations are dealt with, and so that’s what this effort is about,” he said.
His move earned the endorsement of another Republican seen as wavering on the nomination, Lisa Murkowski.
With the Republicans holding a narrow 51-49 majority in the Senate, that placed pressure on Trump to order the FBI probe.
Republicans see Kavanaugh as pivotal to their gaining control of the nine-member Supreme Court bench.
Trump nominated him to replace Anthony Kennedy, who for years was a swing vote between four conservative and four liberal justices.
Many conservatives hope Kavanaugh’s appointment leads to a reversal of the court’s protection for women’s Abortion rights AND For “Afirmative Action” programs supporting minorities in schools and jobs.
With the stakes high, the Judiciary Committee’s preliminary vote took place amid extraordinary tension. Kavanaugh’s supporters and opponents squared off furiously in hearing rooms and protestors crowded the hallways of Congress chanting “November is coming!” — a reference to the upcoming midterm elections.
“Don’t look away from me! Look at me and tell me that it doesn’t matter what happened to me, that you’ll let people like that go to the highest court in the land,” one weeping woman berated Flake, as he made his way to the committee room.
Demonstrators hold anti-kavanaugh march outside the City Hall in Los Angeles on Friday.