WASHINGTON, DC (RNN) – President Donald Trump ordered a supplemental FBI probe into Judge Brett Kavanaugh after the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 11 to 10 along party lines Friday to send Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination to the full Senate, despite questions of sexual misconduct.
Senate Republicans held a procedural vote Friday evening in which all 51 GOP senators voted to bring Kavanaugh’s nomination to the floor once the FBI investigation is over. However, the vote was done without a roll call, so the senators were not on record.
The president said the probe must be limited in scope, and last no longer than a week.
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-AZ, voted for the nomination to move forward with the caveat that he would not be comfortable voting for Kavanaugh unless there was an additional FBI investigation.
"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 ... do an investigation,” the senator said. The GOP leadership later agreed, and President Trump ordered the probe.
Flake said earlier on Friday that he would support Kavanaugh’s nomination, but was confronted by two sexual assault survivors on his way to the hearing.
Flake looked down as one of the women said to him: “Tell me, I’m standing right here in front of you, do you think he’s telling the truth to the country?”
He stood there with the women for a couple of minutes before the elevator doors closed.
The president said at the White House that whatever Senate Republican leadership wanted to do was fine with him.
“They have to do what they think is right. They have to be comfortable with themselves,” Trump said. “That’ll be a decision that they’re going to have to make ... Whatever they think is necessary is OK.”
“I think it will work out very well for the country,” Trump said.
The president called Kavanaugh’s accuser Christine Blasey Ford a “very credible witness.”
Earlier, in response to the American Bar Association’s call for an FBI investigation, the committee chairman, Sen. Charles Grassley, said that the ABA doesn’t “dictate our committee’s business.”
Thursday’s testimony riveted a nation as Ford said she was “100 percent” certain she was sexually assaulted by the Supreme Court nominee.
Kavanaugh, 53, decried the process as a “national disgrace” and reiterated his denial that he never sexually assaulted Ford or anyone else.
His nomination came under fire after three women, including Ford, came forward accusing him of sexual misconduct.
Ford said in an interview with The Washington Post on Sept. 16 that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when she was 15.
Both Kavanaugh and Ford grew up around Washington, DC.
Ford alleged that at some time in 1982, Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed, groped her and tried to take her clothes off during a party.
Kavanaugh allegedly covered her mouth with his hand when she tried to scream, according to The Washington Post.
Ford said the incident occurred at a friend’s house and included Kavanaugh’s friend Mark Judge.
After hearing both Ford and Kavanaugh testify, Trump tweeted his support of Kavanaugh, calling his testimony “powerful, honest, and riveting.”
Thursday evening, the American Bar Association called for the Judiciary Committee to halt Kavanaugh’s nomination until the FBI can complete an investigation into the allegations against him.
“The basic principles that underscore the Senate’s constitutional duty of advice and consent on federal judicial nominees require nothing less than a careful examination of the accusations and facts by the FBI,” said Robert Carlson, president of the ABA, in a Thursday night letter addressed to Grassley and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the committee, according to CNN.
The ABA had strongly endorsed Kavanaugh’s nomination, giving him a rating of “well-qualified” for the Supreme Court, a fact Kavanaugh mentioned during his Thursday testimony.
“For 12 years, everyone who has appeared before me on the D.C. Circuit has praised my judicial temperament,” he said. “That’s why I have the unanimous, well-qualified rating from the American Bar Association.”
America magazine – the weekly magazine of the Jesuit religious order in the U.S. – withdrew its endorsement of Kavanaugh late Thursday, writing: “If Senate Republicans proceed with his nomination, they will be prioritizing policy aims over a woman’s report of an assault."
Kavanaugh, who received a Jesuit education, has frequently mentioned his Catholic faith as being fundamental to his morality, citing it in his opening statement Thursday to defend himself against Ford’s allegations.
The live hearing was akin to when attorney Anita Hill came forward with harassment claims against Justice Clarence Thomas during his confirmation process in 1991.
The last Supreme Court nominee to withdraw was Harriet Miers, who was nominated by President George W. Bush in October 2005 to replace Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
Miers was a corporate attorney who served as White House Counsel from 2005 to 2007. Bipartisan opposition led Bush to withdraw the nomination.
Justice Anthony Kennedy retired from the high court earlier this year, making way for President Donald Trump to appoint a second justice. In 2017, Neil Gorsuch was appointed to replace Antonin Scalia.
Kavanaugh is a former clerk of Kennedy and has served as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit for the last 10 years.
A President George W. Bush appointee to his current position, Kavanaugh had worked as counsel and staff secretary in the White House before his nomination.
A graduate of Yale and Yale Law, he also was a member of Kenneth Starr's independent counsel team that investigated President Bill Clinton.
Kavanaugh was born in Washington, DC, and attended Georgetown Preparatory School.