WASHINGTON -- US President Donald Trump ordered a new FBI investigation into sexual assault allegations against his Supreme Court pick Friday, as the Senate delayed a vote on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to make way for the probe.
After a dramatic day-long hearing at which a university professor accused Kavanaugh of pinning her down and assaulting her at a party in the 1980s, the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier Friday approved his nomination in a preliminary vote along party lines.
But committee chair Chuck Grassley then bowed to intense pressure from inside and outside Congress and announced he was asking Trump to order the new background review that “must be completed no later than one week from today.”
Trump, who repeatedly blasted Democratic opposition to Kavanaugh as a political “con-job,” agreed.
“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,” the president said in a statement.
He later tweeted support for Kavanaugh on Friday night, saying “Just started, tonight, our 7th FBI investigation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh. He will someday be recognized as a truly great Justice of The United States Supreme Court!”
Threat to break ranks
Trump’s order and the decision to put off a final vote came after a key Republican senator, Jeff Flake, threatened to break ranks with his party because of the clouds hanging over Kavanaugh’s head. At least three women have now accused the 53-year-old conservative judge of sexual misconduct while drunk, as a high school and later a university student.