Following up on a deal struck by senators on Friday, President Donald Trump has agreed to order the FBI to reopen its background investigation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
“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,” Trump said in a statement released on Twitter by his top spokeswoman.
Previously, the president had resisted giving the order. He said top FBI leaders had informed him the sexual misconduct allegations against the nominee were out of its purview.
Senior bureau officials had told the White House “that they really don’t do that, that’s not what they do,” Trump said on Sept. 18, two days after Christine Blasey Ford went public with her allegation that he assaulted her at a 1982 high school house party.
Trump’s decision means a final vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination will be delayed at least until the week after next while the FBI does its probe and delivers a final report.
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., negotiated the delay and investigation earlier in the day at the conclusion of a contentious Judiciary Committee hearing that concluded with Kavanaugh’s nomination being advanced to the floor on a 11-10 party line vote.
The nomination now hangs in the balance as Flake and fellow GOP moderates Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, as well as vulnerable Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, mull the allegations and review the FBI’s coming report.
At least before the deal was negotiated, Trump and GOP leaders appeared two votes shy of the 50 they need, with Vice President Mike Pence waiting to cast the 51st and decisive vote.