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Trump orders week-long FBI probe into allegations against Brett Kavanaugh

Fiery protests marked today’s hearing after yesterday’s testimony from Kavanaugh and his assault accuser Christine Blasey Ford.

Updated Sep 28th 2018, 10:26 PM

President Trump Hosts Chile's President Pinera At The White House Donald Trump Source: Pool/ABACA

DONALD TRUMP HAS acquiesced to demands from his own senators to launch a brief probe into the background of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Republican senator Jeff Flake this evening said that he could not endorse Kavanaugh unless the FBI further investigated the allegations of sexual assault against him.

Flake had earlier stated that he would endorse Kavanaugh in the vote (initially planned for next Tuesday) before an afternoon of protests and frenzied meetings outside the Senate Judiciary Committee chamber appeared to sway his mind.

“I’ve ordered the FBI to conduct a supplemental investigation to update Judge Kavanaugh’s file,” Trump said in a statement this evening.

As the Senate has requested, this update must be limited in scope and completed in less than one week.

The move will cast serious doubt on Kavanaugh’s confirmation and will lead inevitably to a weekend of wild speculation and recrimination for American politics.

Earlier the Senate Committee had intimated that such a delay might be necessary following Flake’s suggestion. 

The committee had earlier voted along party lines to hold a vote this evening with the Republicans in the majority on a count of 11-8.

Due diligence

That oral ballot took place and the panel voted to send Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination to the full Senate. Eleven senators were in favour, 10 against. 

However, Flake voted for that to happen on the basis that the next vote in the Senate would be delayed by a week to allow for the FBI investigation to ensure due diligence has been carried out in relation to the nomination. 

The nomination of the 53-year-old conservative judge Kavanaugh will go to the full Senate, where Republicans hold a slim 51-49 majority. That vote had been planned for Tuesday, but will now be delayed.

2 Democrat Peter Leahy addressing today's hearing Source: CNN

On the earlier vote, two Democratic senators, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, abstained citing the process as being unfair. 

Another Democratic senator Richard Blumenthal asked for this evening’s vote to be postponed, at least until more witnesses could be called, but was overruled.

Earlier, Senator Flake, one of the few Republicans on the committee who had appeared to be a possibility of a swing vote, had indicated he intended to endorse Kavanaugh.

However, he was later confronted for several minutes while standing in a lift by a survivor of sexual abuse, who condemned his decision as tacit endorsement of such behaviour.

Indeed, protestors created chaos directly outside the hearing all morning, with some women gaining access to the chamber and standing silently at the rear in mute protest during the debate.

Accusations

Kavanaugh faced accusations in recent weeks that he had assaulted Dr Christine Blasey Ford at a party in 1982 when both were schoolgoing teenagers.

Blasey Ford’s emotive testimony to the committee yesterday was broadly seen to be credible, even by the Republicans on the committee, who declined to interrogate her personally, and instead used a female prosecutor to do so.

Kavanaugh last night gave a fiery rebuttal to Ford’s accusations, insisting that it was a ploy by Democrats to block his confirmation.

He termed his confirmation process to be a national disgrace, and said that his family had been ‘destroyed’ by it.

In the wake of the Senate committee’s decision to vote on Kavanaugh later this afternoon, a majority of Democratic senators walked out of the chamber to give a press conference condemning Kavanaugh’s appointment as overtly political.

The final Senate confirmation vote on Kavanaugh’s appointment was expected to take place on Tuesday but it is now unclear when it will happen. 

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