Article, FEATURED STORIES, U.S.
Trump Order’s FBI To Investigate Kavanaugh
President Donald Trump on Friday ordered the FBI to further investigate allegations of sexual assault levied against his nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
“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,” Trump said in a statement.
Trump, pressured by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, gave the order to the FBI following dramatic events on Capitol Hill earlier in the day.
Members of the Committee came together for what was to be a final meeting preceding a vote to move Kavanaugh’s confirmation onto the floor of the full, US Senate. Legislators from both sides of the political divide were afforded an opportunity to share on-the-record remarks about the previous day’s proceedings.
Thursday’s hearing was a ten-hour marathon that included measured and at times emotional testimony from Kavanaugh’s accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford as well as an unprecedented, defiant, often tearful, opening statement from Kavanaugh.
A controversial move, Senate Republicans hired Rachel Mitchell, a Maricopa County sex crimes prosecutor, as a stand-in for the 11 male, GOP members of the committee. Mitchell questioned Ford for several hours in five-minute intervals.
Later in the day, Mitchell asked Kavanaugh just a few questions before the committee silenced her. Senator Lindsey Graham took the reigns and offered an impassioned speech on Kavanaugh’s behalf that seemed to galvanize Republicans in the chamber.
Democratic members of the committee questioned Ford and Kavanaugh directly without the assistance of special counsel.
Kavanaugh aggressively, at times inappropriately, advocated for himself during the Q&A session, often interrupting questions from the Senators.
Oratory fireworks at Friday’s meeting were more controlled but no less passionate.
Several Democratic lawmakers walked out of the hearing in protest while committee chairman, Senator Chuck Grassley made his opening remarks.
A perturbed Grassley appeared to take his frustration out on photographers in the chamber.
“You folks that are photographers know that you’re supposed to sit down. Maybe you just ought to leave the room if you don’t know what the rules are,” Grassley said.
For the next few hours Republican Senators used their allotted time slots to defend Kavanaugh, the processes implemented to adjudicate Ford’s testimony and their individual roles in the proceeding. They also chastised Democrats for withholding Ford’s anonymous letter of accusation and for politicizing the situation at Kavanaugh’s expense.
Democrats continued to argue for an FBI investigation into Ford’s claims. They challenged Kavanaugh’s creditably and in some instances, his fitness for confirmation. They praised Ford’s courage and defended efforts to manage her, formally, confidential accusation effectively.
Later in the day, Republican Senator Jeff Flake surprised the committee when he announced that he would not vote for Kavanaugh’s nomination, on the floor of the Senate, without a subsequent FBI investigation.
Early Friday morning Flake said in a statement he planned to vote to confirm Kavanaugh. It’s unclear when the Senator changed his mind. As he made his way to the meeting, two female survivors of sexual assault stopped Flake in an elevator. Cameras surrounding the incident captured the dramatic moment.
Ana Maria Archilla yelled to Flake, “What you are doing is allowing someone who actually violated a woman to sit on the Supreme Court. This is not tolerable. You have children in your family. Think about them. I have two children.”
“I was sexually assaulted, and nobody believed me. I didn’t tell anyone, and you’re telling all women that they don’t matter, that they should just stay quiet because if they tell you what happened to them, you are going to ignore them. That’s what happened to me, and that’s what you are telling all women in America, that they don’t matter. They should just keep it to themselves because if they have told the truth, you’re just going to help that man to power anyway,” said Maria Gallagher.
At the hearing, Flake announced he would vote “yes” to move Kavanaugh’s nomination out of the Judiciary committee but would not vote affirmatively on the Senate floor without the FBI’s intervention.
Republicans on the committee, who adamantly opposed an FBI investigation just hours before agreed immediately. Senator Lindsey Graham told reporters that somebody is going to have to explain this Trump. “I guess that’ll be my job,” Graham said.
Trump, who previously said that the FBI doesn’t do these types of investigations and called the Democrat’s request for the bureau to follow up “obstruction,” responded affirmatively to the Senate’s formal request on Friday.
“Whatever they think is necessary,” Trump said. “I’m going to the let the Senate handle that. They’ve been doing a good job. Very professional.