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Flake requests floor delay but votes yes as committee OKs Kavanaugh

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., after speaking during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing about an investigation, Friday, Sept. 28, 2018 on Capitol Hill in Washington. After a flurry of last-minute negotiations, the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced Brett Kavanaugh's nomination for the Supreme Court after agreeing to a late call from Sen. Flake for a one week investigation into sexual assault allegation against the high court nominee. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Friday to move forward with the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, after a dramatic request from Arizona Republican Jeff Flake for a delay of the floor vote.

The panel voted 11-10, along party lines with the Republican majority, in recommending the confirmation to the full Senate.

Later, Republican leaders went along with Flake’s request and asked President Donald Trump to direct the FBI to perform a background investigation of Kavanaugh before the final vote. Trump agreed.

Flake, whose vote had been in doubt, announced before committee convened that he would vote for Kavanaugh, who has been accused of sexually assaulting a woman when they were in high school. He has denied the allegation.

But just before the vote was to take place, Flake and Sen. Chris Coons (D-Dela.) left the room to talk privately.

When they returned, before roll call began Flake said, “I think it would be proper to delay the floor vote up to but no more than a week.

Flake added later, “I’ll move it out of committee, but I will only be comfortable moving on the floor until the FBI has done more investigation then they have already. …

“We owe … due diligence.”

If there is no delay, a full Senate vote could happen as soon as Tuesday. Republicans have a 51-49 majority.

Asked what he hoped to accomplish, Flake replied: “A better process.”

Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford emotionally testified for almost nine hours Thursday, with Ford saying she was “100 percent” certain Kavanaugh attacked her at a party in the 1980s.

Republicans praised Ford’s bravery in coming forward, but many of them said her account wouldn’t affect their support for Kavanaugh.

President Donald Trump also made clear that he was sticking by his nominee. “His testimony was powerful, honest and riveting,” he tweeted. “The Senate must vote!”

Democrats opposed Kavanaugh.

The American Bar Association urged the committee and the full Senate to hold off the vote until the FBI had investigated the assault claims.

“Each appointment to our nation’s highest court (as with all others) is simply too important to rush to a vote,” the association wrote.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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