Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., surprised his colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee Friday, voting to advance Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to a full Senate floor vote but adding a condition that heon a motion to proceed with the confirmation process unless it is delayed for up to a week to allow time for an FBI investigation.
The vote to advance Kavanaugh in the committee fell along party lines on Friday, passing 11-10. Flake said he believed it would be proper to delay the floor vote to allow the FBI to conduct an investigation "limited in time" to no more than one week.
"This country is being ripped apart here, and we've got to make sure we do due diligence," he said. He added that he would be more "comfortable" with an FBI investigation.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley released a statement Friday calling for an FBI investigation. "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," Grassley said in the statement.
What happens next?
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted on Friday afternoon that President Trump would call for an FBI investigation. "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," the president said in a statement.
When it comes to a vote that's needed to advance Kavanaugh's nomination, it is possible that Flake won't vote to continue the confirmation process on the Senate floor. In that case, Vice President Mike Pence could cast a tie-breaking vote to advance his nomination. However, if more than one senator agrees that a one-week FBI investigation is necessary before continuing with a floor vote, Republicans will not have the votes to advance Kavanaugh's confirmation.
Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin have said they agree a floor vote should be delayed.
"I applaud Senator Jeff Flake's decision to rise above the partisan circus on display during this entire process," Manchin said Friday in a statement. "It took courage to take a stand and call for a one-week FBI investigation to get to the bottom of the allegations against Judge Kavanaugh. ... We need to take time to address these claims independently, so that our country can have confidence in the outcome of this vote. It is what is right and fair for Dr. Ford, Judge Kavanaugh, and the American people."
Republican Sen. Susan Collins also said that she believed an FBI investigation was a "sensible step" on Twitter.
As Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell knew that there are not enough votes to bring Kavanaugh's nomination to a floor vote, Mr. Trump had two options: call for an FBI investigation, or withdraw Kavanaugh's nomination. Mr. Trump chose the investigation route.
The president seemed to accept Flake's decision to call for a full Senate vote delay on Kavanaugh.
"Well, I'm gonna let the Senate handle that," Mr. Trump said about Flake's call for the delay. He added that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault, comported herself well during her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday, calling her a "credible witness." Kavanaugh also testified before the committee Thursday.
Flake announced that he would be supporting Kavanaugh's confirmation Friday morning and was later confronted by passionate protesters in an elevator. The senator was reportedly moved by Democratic Sen. Chris Coon's speech before Kavanaugh's nomination was advanced.