Donald Trump has directed the FBI to investigate the sexual-assault allegations against his US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Kavanaugh has been accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct, including Christine Blasey Ford, who testified before the Senate judiciary committee. The nominee denies any wrongdoing regarding Ford or any other women.
“I’ve ordered the FBI to conduct a supplemental investigation to update Judge Kavanaugh’s file,” Trump said in a statement today (Sept. 28). “As the Senate has requested, this update must be limited in scope and completed in less than one week.”
The order came just hours after Kavanaugh’s nomination was approved by the committee in a 11-10 vote along party lines. However, senator Jeff Flake, a Republican from Arizona, made it clear that he would not vote for Kavanaugh on the Senate floor without an FBI investigation of the allegations against him. Republican senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine backed Flake’s push for a one-week delay on a floor vote.
A lawyer for Mark Judge, Kavanaugh’s friend who Ford says was in the room when the alleged assault occurred in 1982, said today his client “will answer any and all questions posed to him” by the FBI. Though Judge has previously denied any recollection of the event in question, he also has admitted to abusing alcohol in high school.
The president is the only person who can order such an FBI investigation. His order came under pressure Republicans like Flake and Murkowski whose votes are needed to confirm the nomination.
After the judiciary committee hearing yesterday, Trump tweeted his support for his nominee.
“Throughout this process, I’ve been interviewed by the FBI, I’ve done a number of ‘background’ calls directly with the Senate, and yesterday, I answered questions under oath about every topic the Senators and their counsel asked me. I’ve done everything they have requested and will continue to cooperate,” Kavanaugh said in a statement today.
While Trump has given the FBI one week to complete its investigation, it’s unclear what will happen it takes longer. Given Flake’s insistence on receiving the results of the probe before he votes, the Senate may well wait until he’s satisfied.