U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., said the one week delay on Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination vote is a “good faith effort,” but said the actions of some senators have been “shameless.” U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., did not send out an official comment after Friday’s surprise turn of events in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
President Donald Trump on July 9 nominated Kavanaugh to replace retiring U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. Kavanaugh, 53, is a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. He is a former law clerk for Justice Kennedy and was a senior associate counsel to President George W. Bush. Kavanaugh was confirmed to the D.C. Circuit in 2006.
His nomination was initially seen as a done deal for Republicans, but allegations of sexual assault emerged. Dr. Christine Ford was allowed to testify Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee about her claims of assault against Kavanaugh. Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick have also accused Kavanaugh of assault.
Still, the Judiciary Committee was set Friday to vote on sending Kavanuagh’s nomination to the Senate floor. U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., cobbled together a last-minute deal to push for a minimum one-week delay and call for an FBI investigation into the sexual assault claims made against Judge Kavanaugh.
“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, to the current allegations that are there,” Flake said before the vote on Kavanaugh. “I will vote to advance the bill to the floor with that understanding.”
Flake made it clear he would not vote for Kavanaugh if Senate leadership pushed for a floor vote without honoring the committee’s call for an investigation. Democratic Senators on the committee, however, were concerned that that agreement on an investigation is non-binding. But U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said Flake’s vote hinging on an investigation was good enough for her.
“I actually think this is very important what just happened right now. It doesn’t have to have an agreement. It’s one Senator who is standing up,” Klobuchar said, pointing to Flake.
The committee vote split along party lines, with 11 for and 10 against sending the Kavanaugh nomination to a U.S. Senate floor vote.
The White House indicated Friday afternoon that President Trump would authorize an FBI investigation. The President had previously suggested he did not support an FBI investigation.
Sen. Boozman issued this statement late Friday: “The allegations against Judge Kavanaugh are serious and certainly merited additional investigation from the moment they were raised. I appreciate Chairman Grassley’s efforts to immediately investigate them as soon as he was made aware, as well as his leadership in conducting a fair hearing. I found the testimony to be helpful to our review of these accusations. The additional short delay is one more good faith effort to help those with legitimate concerns feel more comfortable that due diligence has been exhausted before casting their votes.
“Having said that, it is hard to quantify just how much the well has been poisoned by the behavior of some senators throughout this process. Their shameless attempts to delay the vote indefinitely by withholding information until the final hours will no doubt create lasting damage to the institution.
“Throughout this process, I have noted that his exceptional record on the bench and the high level of respect his peers hold for him make Judge Kavanaugh a well-qualified nominee. I continue to hold that view.”
Although Sen. Cotton did not comment Friday, he did say in the Thursday evening tweet that it was time for the Senate to vote.
“Judge Kavanuagh gave compelling testimony, with specific and detailed recollection. His testimony is corroborated by multiple other statements of evidence. The Democrats’ disgraceful smear campaign of character assassination must come to an end. It’s time for the Senate to vote.”