WASHINGTON ― Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) told reporters Friday that he plans to vote for Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, following the completion of the FBI investigation into allegations of sexual assault leveled against him, “unless something big changed.”
“I don’t see what would,” he added.
The FBI started its probe last week after Flake, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s lone swing vote, said he could only move forward with the process if Republican leaders agreed to authorize a limited, week-long investigation into Christine Blasey Ford’s accusation against Kavanaugh. The psychology professor has accused the nominee of pinning her to a bed and groping her when they were both high school students.
Kavanaugh has denied the allegation, as well as those from two other women who have accused him of sexual misconduct.
After reviewing a copy of the FBI’s report pertaining to the investigation on Thursday, Flake told reporters on Capitol Hill that he saw “no new” information to corroborate the allegations. The senator, who is retiring this year, said he broke with his party by calling for the investigation in order to restore some legitimacy to the process amid heightened partisan rancor in recent weeks.
On Monday, Flake said: “It does no good to have an investigation that just gives us more cover, for example. We actually need to find out what we can find out.”
Yet the limited investigation does seem to be giving senators cover to confirm Kavanaugh anyway.
Democrats, however, said the investigation failed to interview a number of key witnesses, including many of Kavanaugh’s classmates from Yale University. One woman has accused Kavanaugh of misconduct during their time at the school.
“It looks to be the product of an incomplete investigation that was limited,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the senior Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, told reporters on Thursday.
Flake’s announcement comes as a blow to Democrats, who view Kavanaugh as a serious threat to the Affordable Care Act and women’s reproductive rights. If the Senate confirms Kavanaugh, Republicans will cement a reliably conservative majority on the court and tilt the balance of power further to the right for decades. The 53-year-old conservative judge is seeking to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, who sometimes sided with the court’s liberals on issues like abortion, gay rights and affirmative action.
The Senate is expected to hold its final vote on the Kavanaugh nomination on Saturday.
Marina Fang contributed reporting.