Senator confronted by angry protester, calls for delay on key Kavanaugh vote

U.S. President Donald Trump appeared to be on his best behaviour Friday

Senators voted Friday to send Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination for a broader vote on Capitol Hill — but not before the man holding the swing vote helped negotiate a last-minute caveat: a week-long FBI investigation into Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations of sexual assault.

An often bitter and partisan hearing of the Senate Justice Committee, the memory of explosive testimony from the two main players still fresh in their minds, ended in a chaotic and confusing flurry of closed-door negotiations led by Arizona Republican Jeff Flake.

RELATED: Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination to go to full Senate

Flake said he, Delaware Democrat Chris Coons and others agreed to ask for the broader Senate to delay a final vote for no more than a week to allow the FBI to look into Blasey Ford’s allegations of being sexually assaulted by Kavanaugh when the two of them were teenagers.

“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 do an investigation, limited in time and scope, into the allegations that are there,” Flake told the committee.

“I will vote to advance the bill to the floor with that understanding.”

Following the vote, Coons said he and other Democrats wanted the extra week not to stall the confirmation process, but to investigate the allegations currently before the committee.

“It is my hope that we could work together on a bipartisan basis to diligently pursue an FBI investigation within the next week, not for the purpose of delay, but for the purpose of investigating further allegations made by Dr. Ford or others.”

Flake, the swing vote on the 21-member committee, said earlier in a statement that he planned to support Kavanaugh, saying the nominee was entitled to the presumption of innocence “absent corroborating evidence.”

But he appeared to be having second thoughts as the hour for voting neared — possibly as a result of an emotional confrontation in an elevator with a pair of protesters who pleaded with him to reconsider.

RELATED: Christine Blasey Ford steps into spotlight; defiant Kavanaugh fights back

Republicans, their hand forced by the narrow margin of support for Kavanaugh, issued a statement not long afterward confirming they had agreed to a “supplemental background investigation” to be limited to “current credible allegations” and to take no longer than a week.

And U.S. President Donald Trump appeared to be on his best behaviour Friday before confirming in a statement that the White House would authorize an investigation “limited in scope” and within the time frame agreed to by the committee.

It was a surprisingly deferential Trump, sitting alongside the president of Chile, who said he would leave it to the Senate to decide on the question of a delay. “I just want it to work out well for the country. If that happens, I’m happy.”

On Thursday, the committee listened, captivated, as Blasey Ford, a California psychology professor, declared that she’s “100 per cent” certain it was Kavanaugh who tried to sexually assault her during a house party in Maryland in 1982.

Then they heard a fiery, tearful and defensive rebuttal from Kavanaugh, who denied the allegations but pointedly refused to explain to Sen. Dick Durbin (D- Ill.) why he wouldn’t support delaying the hearing indefinitely to allow an FBI investigation.

The American Bar Association, which previously gave Kavanaugh its highest rating of “well qualified,” asked the Senate committee and the full Senate to delay their votes until the FBI could do a full background check on the assault claims.

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who intervened powerfully on Kavanaugh’s behalf at one point during his testimony Thursday, declared his support for the nominee Friday with his usual brand of fiery Republican rhetoric.

Following the vote, he struck a more conciliatory tone as he acknowledged Flake’s efforts to satisfy his own conscience.

“Jeff’s trying his best to bring the country together and vote the best way he knows how,” said Graham, who was on his way to meet with Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell to discuss the arrangement.

Asked whether he believed McConnell should agree to delay the vote, Graham made it clear what’s on the line for the Republicans, who currently have a razor-thin 51-49 majority in the Senate: ”The last time I looked, you need 50 votes.”

Democrats have been clamouring for days for the hearings to be suspended to allow for an FBI investigation into the allegations, a request Republicans have largely dismissed as a delay tactic that would ultimately uncover nothing, given the extensive vetting already done on Kavanaugh.

James McCarten, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Ponoka teen pedestrian suffers injuries after pickup collision

A pickup struck a teen on residential streets in Ponoka

UPDATED: Calgary Police receive multiple bomb threats

Similar threats received across Canada and the United States

PHOTOS: Battle of Ponoka basketball action

The first ever senior high basketball league game for both Ponoka high schools was high energy

Guards injured, money stolen during overnight blast at Edmonton bank

Alberta Health Services said the injuries to the male guard were serious

Ponoka Elementary students team up to help KidSport

A special fundraiser has been organized by Ponoka Elementary Students to benefit KidSport

VIDEO: Royals reveal the images on their Christmas cards

Prince William and his wife Kate are shown outside in casual clothes, their three young children in tow

Facebook reveals bug gave apps unauthorized access to 6.8 million users’ photos

It’s believed up to 1,500 apps built by 876 developers had access to Facebook Stories, private photos

Trudeau to make it harder for future PM to reverse Senate reforms

Of the 105 current senators, 54 are now independents who have banded together in Independent Senators’ Group

21 detained before Paris protests as police deploy in force

There was a strong police presence outside the central Saint Lazare train station, where police in riot gear checked bags

New home for Calgary Flames estimated to cost up to $600 million

The city and the Flames are not yet talking on who will pay how much for a building to replace the Saddledome

Family searching for B.C. professor last seen at Colombian salsa club

Ramazan Gencay, a professor in economics at Simon Fraser University, was last seen in Medellin

Rash of bomb threats a learning opportunity for response capacity, Goodale

Thursday’s wave of bomb threats swept across communities on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border

Mike Duffy can’t sue Senate over suspension without pay, judge rules

Duffy’s lawsuit sought more than $7.8 million from the upper chamber

Language on Sikh extremism in report will be reviewed, Goodale says

A public-safety ministry document indicats terrorist threats to Canada included a section on Sikh extremism for the first time

Most Read