Sens. Hatch, Lee Grudgingly Support FBI Investigation
Updated 5:35 p.m. MDT.
While Utah Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee said they support an FBI investigation into claims that U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford in high school, both issued statements Friday afternoon that indicated their impatience with another delay.
“While I personally believe it is appropriate to proceed with Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation at this time, I recognize that some members feel that additional investigation could be useful,” Hatch said.
Hatch said he believed an investigation ordered Friday by President Donald Trump would address concerns raised by Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and others “while also being fair to the Kavanaugh family.”
Lee’s statement appeared to show that he was satisfied with Thursday’s hearing.
“But since some of my colleagues believe one more week of FBI investigation will bring us closer to the truth I support that investigation,” Lee said, “I look forward to voting for Judge Kavanaugh soon.”
President Trump called the investigation after a whirlwind morning that left members of both sides of the Senate Judiciary Committee wondering what happened.
The committee voted 11-10 along party lines to advance Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Senate floor. But before the committee decided, Flake gave a last-minute request to delay the final confirmation vote by up to one week in order to give the FBI time to investigate testimony from Ford that she was sexually assaulted by Kavanaugh in the early 1980s while they were in high school.
Flake – a key swing vote – voted to advance Kavanaugh to the Senate floor. But the Arizona Republican, who is not seeking re-election, said he believed it “would be proper to delay the floor vote for up to, but not more than, one week.”
In doing so, Flake joined Democrats, the American Bar Association and the dean of Yale Law School, Kavanaugh’s alma mater, in calling for additional investigation into Ford’s accusations of assault.
Earlier in the day, after Flake indicated he would vote yes to move Kavanaugh's confirmation out of committee, he faced protestors who confronted him as he stepped onto an elevator in a Senate office building. The request to delay the final vote came after Thursday's hearing that heard widely-praised testimony from Ford and a contentious response from Kavanaugh.
After Thursday’s hearing, Utah’s two Republican Senators said while they believe Ford was assaulted, they do not believe Kavanaugh was the perpetrator.
Earlier Friday, Hatch criticized what he called a “delay, delay, delay” tactic.
“We can’t allow more time for new smears to damage Judge Kavanaugh, his family, his reputation,” Hatch said, describing Kavanaugh’s confirmation process as a “circus.”
Sen. Mike Lee also pushed for a confirmation vote earlier Friday.
“Our job yesterday was to hear from Dr. Ford and to hear from Judge Kavanaugh,” said Lee said. “We’ve done that. Our job now is to vote.”