Judiciary Committee votes on Kavanaugh

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted on Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court, setting up a final vote in the full Senate. The vote was preceded by a request from Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) for an FBI investigation into the allegations against Kavanaugh before the full Senate votes on his confirmation.

Posted: Sep 30, 2018 1:48 AM
Updated: Sep 30, 2018 2:09 AM

Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation was suddenly thrown into doubt Friday after Republicans and the White House agreed to a one-week delay so that the FBI can investigate sexual assault allegations facing President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee.

"I've ordered the FBI to conduct a supplemental investigation to update Judge Kavanaugh's file," Trump said in a statement. "As the Senate has requested, this update must be limited in scope and completed in less than one week."

Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake first made the demand for the FBI probe after a chaotic scene at a Judiciary Committee meeting in which the panel advanced Kavanaugh by a 11-10 party line vote. Swing votes Alaska GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Maine GOP Sen. Susan Collins and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin subsequently backed an FBI investigation before they'll vote to confirm Kavanaugh.

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, said there would still be a procedural vote to move ahead with Kavanaugh's confirmation in the Senate on Saturday, with an agreement for the FBI investigation. The Judiciary Committee said the FBI should investigate "current credible allegations" against Kavanaugh, but it is unclear which allegations the committee considers credible.

The tumult came just hours after Kavanaugh appeared to be on solid footing, with Republicans rallying to his side after his denials of Christine Blasey Ford's allegation in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Thursday.

Kavanaugh has denied the allegations against him. In a statement Friday, he said he would "continue to cooperate" with the FBI.

"Throughout this process, I've been interviewed by the FBI, I've done a number of 'background' calls directly with the Senate, and yesterday, I answered questions under oath about every topic the Senators and their counsel asked me," Kavanaugh said. "I've done everything they have requested and will continue to cooperate."

Friday's dramatic events follow wrenching, partisan hearing Thursday where Christine Blasey Ford detailed her sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh and he vehemently denied them.

Ford's attorney welcomed the new investigation but criticized the time frame.

"A thorough FBI investigation is critical to developing all the relevant facts," said Debra Katz. "Dr. Christine Blasey Ford welcomes this step in the process, and appreciates the efforts of Senators Flake, Murkowski, Manchin and Collins -- and all other senators who have supported an FBI investigation -- to ensure it is completed before the Senate votes on Judge Kavanaugh's nomination. No artificial limits as to time or scope should be imposed on this investigation."

Kavanaugh, a Republican who played a lead role in the Ken Starr investigation of Bill Clinton's sexual misconduct and later worked in former President George W. Bush's White House, is a DC Circuit Court of Appeals judge. He would replace the retiring Supreme Court swing vote, Justice Anthony Kennedy, possibly cementing a conservative majority for a generation.

Flake changes his mind

On Friday morning, Flake -- who had been seen as one of three swing votes in a Republican caucus that can only afford to lose one vote -- announced he would support Kavanaugh's confirmation.

Then, on the way to the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing room, he was involved in a dramatic confrontation, when two protesters blocked Flake's elevator. By voting to confirm Kavanaugh, "you're telling me that my assault doesn't matter," one tearfully told him live on CNN, as Flake listened and nodded.

Inside the committee room an hour from Friday's scheduled 1:30 p.m. vote, Flake tapped his friend Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, on the shoulder, and the two retreated to a private anteroom. It set off an hour of frantic behind-the-scenes negotiations, as questions about whether Flake had changed his mind hovered.

"Jeff said, 'I'm concerned that we are tearing the country apart,'" Coons told CNN. "That the powerful testimony of Dr. Ford did not seem to be taken seriously and investigated -- and that Judge Kavanaugh and his family were distraught by allegations that weren't credible."

When Flake emerged, he announced his position: He'd vote for Kavanaugh Friday -- giving the committee an 11-10 majority to send him on to the Senate floor -- but wouldn't vote for him in the full Senate unless the FBI could investigate first.

"We ought to do what we can to make sure that we do all due diligence with a nomination this important," he said.

Flake confronted by two female protesters after announcing he'll back Kavanaugh

There was no guarantee at the time an FBI probe would happen, however.

"This is all gentlemen's and women's agreement," Grassley said after the vote to committee members.

Before Flake's maneuver, Senate Republican leaders appeared Friday morning to have 49 solid yes votes, one shy of the 50 they need to confirm Kavanaugh -- meaning they could lose one Republican and have Vice President Mike Pence break a potential tie.

Dramatic committee meeting

Shortly after the vote time was set by committee Republicans on Friday in a meeting that started at 9:30 a.m. and Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley began reading a statement praising Kavanaugh, California Sen. Kamala Harris led several Democrats in walking out of the hearing room. She was joined by Connecticut's Richard Blumenthal, Hawaii's Mazie Hirono, Rhode Island's Sheldon Whitehouse, and later, Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy.

"From top to bottom this has been about bullies," Harris told reporters outside the committee room. "Dr. Ford came in and she poured out her heart. She cooperated with the process. She gave the process dignity and respect. The least we could do is give her the dignity and respect of a process that has credibility."

"I'm not going to participate in this charade anymore," Hirono said.

Republicans responded angrily, saying they believed Kavanaugh's denial of Ford's allegation.

"I'm a single white male from South Carolina, and I'm told I should just shut up, but I will not shut up," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, said Friday.

He said he feels sorry for Ford, "but I don't believe it was Brett Kavanaugh" who assaulted her.

"Everything I know about Judge Kavanaugh screams that this didn't happen," Graham said.

Wrenching hearing

During an intense, day-long hearing Thursday, Ford, a California professor, testified that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her while they were both teenagers in the early 1980s. Kavanaugh later offered a vociferous and emotional defense, alternately shouting and tearing up on national television.

On Thursday, Ford told the committee she is "100%" certain it was Kavanaugh who attacked her at a party when the two were teenagers in 1982.

As the nation watched, she said she "believed he was going to rape me." She told senators it has "haunted me episodically as an adult."

Then, Kavanaugh denied that allegation and other accusations of sexual misconduct he has faced in recent days. He blamed Democrats for what he said was a "calculated and orchestrated political hit" designed to keep him off the Supreme Court. He also refused to support a Democratic push for an FBI investigation of the allegations.

"I've never done this," Kavanaugh said of Ford's assault charge. "It's not who I am. I am innocent."

Late Thursday night, the American Bar Association took the extraordinary step of recommending the Senate Judiciary Committee pause on Kavanaugh's nomination until a FBI probe into the allegations is completed. The association had previously given Kavanaugh a unanimous "well-qualified" rating, its highest rating.

"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 organization, in a Thursday night letter.

"Each appointment to our nation's Highest Court (as with all others) is simply too important to rush to a vote," Carlson wrote. "Deciding to proceed without conducting additional investigation would not only have a lasting impact on the Senate's reputation, but it will also negatively affect the great trust necessary for the American people to have in the Supreme Court."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 307332

Reported Deaths: 7095
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto20757248
Hinds19869408
Harrison17475302
Rankin13307275
Jackson13095243
Madison9886210
Lee9854169
Jones8289160
Forrest7522146
Lauderdale7185237
Lowndes6261144
Lamar610284
Lafayette6026117
Washington5279132
Bolivar4769129
Oktibbeha455297
Panola4440103
Pearl River4418139
Warren4277118
Marshall4267100
Pontotoc416472
Monroe4056132
Union403575
Neshoba3984176
Lincoln3869107
Hancock371985
Leflore3468124
Sunflower329389
Tate322681
Pike3177104
Scott310472
Yazoo304268
Alcorn297664
Itawamba296776
Copiah292965
Coahoma289677
Simpson287484
Tippah284668
Prentiss275659
Marion265679
Wayne261341
Leake260973
Grenada254882
Covington254380
Adams245882
Newton244859
George237647
Winston225981
Tishomingo222067
Jasper219748
Attala213273
Chickasaw204857
Holmes186471
Clay182354
Stone179131
Clarke176676
Tallahatchie175240
Calhoun163130
Yalobusha158636
Smith158534
Walthall130543
Greene129433
Lawrence126223
Noxubee125833
Montgomery125542
Perry125138
Carroll120826
Amite119941
Webster113432
Jefferson Davis105332
Tunica102525
Claiborne101330
Benton97225
Kemper95126
Humphreys94332
Franklin81723
Quitman78916
Choctaw72817
Jefferson64828
Wilkinson64727
Sharkey49617
Issaquena1686
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 518588

Reported Deaths: 10712
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson753351487
Mobile37698798
Madison33829494
Tuscaloosa25245443
Montgomery23942565
Shelby23094238
Baldwin20617300
Lee15510165
Calhoun14277311
Morgan14137268
Etowah13660345
Marshall11952219
Houston10379278
Elmore9988200
Limestone9806147
Cullman9467188
St. Clair9422234
Lauderdale9208227
DeKalb8745181
Talladega8042171
Walker7087275
Jackson6753110
Autauga6715103
Blount6480135
Colbert6200130
Coffee5397112
Dale4766110
Russell428238
Franklin419882
Chilton4080109
Covington4053114
Tallapoosa3892146
Escambia387574
Dallas3526149
Chambers3499122
Clarke346360
Marion3065100
Pike305475
Lawrence295295
Winston272272
Bibb256258
Marengo248561
Geneva245875
Pickens232959
Barbour224755
Hale218675
Butler212266
Fayette208960
Henry187844
Cherokee182044
Randolph176741
Monroe171240
Washington163838
Macon154348
Clay149354
Crenshaw149257
Cleburne146041
Lamar139234
Lowndes136453
Wilcox124327
Bullock121340
Conecuh109028
Perry107926
Sumter102932
Coosa99228
Greene90734
Choctaw58624
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