Judiciary Approves Kavanaugh Nomination, But With Caveat

The Senate Judiciary Committee has voted 11 to 10 to favorably report the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, but with a big caveat, a one-week delay of a full floor vote to conduct an FBI investigation into the sexual allegation charges will be necessary for one of the Republican swing votes, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), to support the nominee (presumably if the investigation clears Kavanaugh).

Chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), who had scheduled the vote for 1:30, says he supported that.

Senate Democrats have been demanding the investigation into the sexual assault charges levied by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford against Kavanaugh.

"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," said Grassley's office Friday afternoon.

The committee can't actually require an FBI investigation, but Flake signaled he would have to have one to do the "due diligence" for the American people.

It was a last-minute twist that had media outlets scrambling to figure out what was happening.

After Sen. Grassley graveled the hearing closed, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) ranking member of the committee, was unclear what had actually been voted. She thought there was an amendment calling for the FBI investigation, but Grassley said it was just a "gentlemen's and women's agreement."

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) pointed out that it would be up to the Senate leader--Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)--to decide to delay the vote while the committee asks the FBI to investigate, which will be up to the White House now to approve, or not.

President Trump said after the vote that whatever Sen. Grassley thought was necessary was OK with him.

Flake reportedly exited the committee hearing room not long before the planned 1:30 vote without providing expected remarks and following an impassioned speech by Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.). It also came after Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) presented a graphic from Kavanaugh's calendar for the relevant months in 1982 showing what appeared to be a party with beer and some of the people identified by Kavanaugh's sexual assault accuser, Christine Blasey Ford (see graphic).

Flake was also confronted by protesters as he tried to make his way to the floor earlier in the day.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said she had suggested a week-long investigation as had others on her side of the aisle.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.