Sunday, September 30, 2018

Sen. Jeff Flake says he will support Brett Kavanaugh unless the FBI finds evidence of wrongdoing

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh may have more support in the Senate than he thinks.

Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake said that he will vote in support of Kavanaugh in the coming weeks — as long as the FBI investigation into the Supreme Court hopeful, which President Donald Trump ordered on Friday, does not reveal any evidence of wrongdoing. 

“I’m a conservative. He’s a conservative,” Flake told The Atlantic in a story published on Saturday. “I plan to support him unless they turn up something — and they might.”

Flake feels the pressure

Flake, who is set to retire at the end of this year when his current term expires, has found himself in somewhat of a hot seat amid the Kavanaugh controversy. As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Flake had a first-hand look at the testimonies delivered by Kavanaugh and his first accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, on Thursday — but according to The Atlantic, the testimonies didn’t make him feel any “closer to knowing for sure what happened in that suburban-Maryland bedroom 35 years ago.”

“I wish that I could express the confidence that some of my colleagues have conveyed about what either did or did not happen in the early 1980s, but I left the hearing yesterday with as much doubt as certainty,” Flake said in a statement posted on his website.

But while Flake said later in the statement that he would vote to confirm Kavanaugh, and while he did vote in Kavanaugh’s favor in committee, Flake noted later on Friday that once the vote was placed before the entirety of the Senate, he would only vote to confirm Kavanaugh after an FBI investigation into the sexual assault allegations plaguing the Supreme Court hopeful.

Recognizing the importance of Flake’s vote for the confirmation of his nominee, President Trump subsequently requested that the FBI do a “supplemental” background check on Kavanaugh that is “limited in scope and completed in less than one week.” Kavanaugh needs support from at least 51 senators to be confirmed, which means unless the nominee can garner support from Democrats, he needs each and every GOP vote.

Five senators remain indecisive

Flake is one of several senators who remain undecided on Kavanaugh, including Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND). In his interview with The Atlantic on Friday night, Flake attributed his indecisiveness to the many opinions being lodged at him from both sides of the political aisle.

“I was getting calls and emails for days from friends and acquaintances saying, ‘Here’s my story, here’s why I was emboldened to come out,'” Flake said. But people like former President George W. Bush urged him in the other direction.

“He obviously worked closely with Brett,” Flake said of the former president, “so he’s a big fan.”

Flake said he was also unsettled after Thursday’s hearing, which he said led to a “sleepless night.”

“We can’t just have the committee acting like this,” Flake said. “The majority and minority parties and their staffs just don’t work well together. There’s no trust. In the investigation, they can’t issue subpoenas like they should. It’s just falling apart.”

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