Senate Democrats and the women who accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault and sexual misconduct are now getting what they demanded: an FBI investigation into the allegations.
In a dramatic turn of events on Friday, the Republicans in control of the Senate Judiciary Committee asked that a final vote by the full Senate be held off for at least a week and ask that President Donald Trump order the FBI to launch a week-long investigation of the serious charges against Kavanaugh.
All of these developments came just one day after Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford testified about her sexual assault allegations against the Supreme Court nominee. In hours of grueling public testimony she vividly describing his alleged attack on her when they were in high school, while he vigorously denied any such attack ever occurred.
“The Senate Judiciary Committee will request that the administration instruct the FBI to conduct a supplemental FBI background investigation,” the committee said in a statement
“The supplemental FBI background investigation would be limited to current credible allegations against the nominee and must be completed no later than one week from today,” they continued.
Trump confirmed he has ordered the FBI to look into the allegations but he would restrict the investigation to one week.
“I’ve ordered the FBI to conduct a supplemental investigation to update Judge Kavanaugh’s file. As the Senate has requested, this update must be limited in scope and completed in less than one week,” he said in a statement.
The news came shortly after Republican Sen. Jeff Flake called for the Senate leadership to delay the full Senate vote for up to one week in order to make time for an FBI investigation into Ford’s sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh.
“This country’s being ripped apart here,” said Flake.
Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III went on to support Flake’s call for a delayed vote.
“The American people have been pulled apart by this entire spectacle and we need to take time to address these claims independently, so that our country can have confidence in the outcome of this vote,” Manchin said in a statement, reported the Washington Post. “It is what is right and fair for Dr. Ford, Judge Kavanaugh, and the American people.”
Prior to agreeing to delay the vote, the Senate Judiciary Committee — Sen. Flake included — voted on Friday to send Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the full Senate.
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Additionally, Mark Judge, a high school friend of Kavanaugh’s who Ford claims was present while the Supreme Court nominee sexually assaulted her, has also agreed to cooperate with the FBI investigation.
“If the FBI or any law enforcement agency requests Mr. Judge’s cooperation, he will answer any and all questions posed to him,” Judge’s lawyer Barbara Van Gelder told CNBC.
In an emotional three-hour testimony on Thursday, Ford — the 51-year-old research psychologist and professor at Palo Alto University — went into detail about her allegation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a high school party in the 1980s. Ford claims Kavanaugh allegedly pinned her down to a bed, groped her and tried to remove her clothes.
Her eyes welling with tears and her voice often shaking, Ford recalled her memories of the alleged assault. “I believed he was going to rape me,” she said. “I tried to yell for help. When I did, Brett put his hand over my mouth to stop me from screaming. This was what terrified me the most, and has had the most lasting impact on my life. It was hard for me to breathe, and I thought that Brett was accidentally going to kill me.”
Ford said she was “100 percent” certain Kavanaugh was guilty of sexually assaulting her when they were high school students, but in his fiery and often combative testimony, the judge insisted he was “100 percent certain” he did not.
At times shouting, crying and interrupting senators, Kavanaugh argued that he is the victim of “grotesque and obvious character assassination” planned by Senate Democrats. He has denied all of Ford’s allegations and those made by other women not appearing before the inquiry.
Following the testimony, Trump voiced his support for his Supreme Court nominee.
“Judge Kavanaugh showed America exactly why I nominated him. His testimony was powerful, honest, and riveting,” the president tweeted on Thursday. “Democrats’ search and destroy strategy is disgraceful and this process has been a total sham and effort to delay, obstruct, and resist. The Senate must vote!”
In his statement, Trump did not mention Ford or her emotional testimony.
If you or someone you care about is affected by sexual violence, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).