The Trump administration has ordered a new FBI probe into Brett Kavanaugh following a Senate Judiciary Committee request. The probe will delay a full Senate vote on the Supreme Court nominee by at least a week.
US President Donald Trump's administration on Friday instructed the FBI to conduct a fresh investigation into sexual assault allegations against 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," the White House said in a statement citing the president.
The order came after the Senate Judiciary Committee requested the administration order a "supplemental FBI background investigation" into "current credible allegations" against Kavanaugh, who denies accusations of sexual assault when he was a teenager.
The allegations against the Supreme Court nominee were put on display on Thursday in testimony before the Senate committee, when Christine Blasey Ford told her side of events that occurred decades ago and Kavanaugh delivered a defiant rebuttal.
Kavanaugh said he "will continue to cooperate" with what the Senate asks of him.
Ford welcomed the FBI investigation, one of her lawyers said. "No artificial limits as to time or scope should be imposed on this investigation," Debra Katz, an attorney for Ford, said in a statement.
The call for the FBI investigation came after the committee earlier on Friday voted 11-10 to send Kavanaugh's confirmation to a full Senate vote against Democratic opposition.
The contentious committee vote to advance the nomination to the Senate floor was secured after Jeff Flake, a key Republican senator casting the deciding vote, provided support for Kavanaugh on condition the Trump administration order an FBI probe.
Senator Jeff Flake, a Republican from Arizona, supported moving Kavanaugh's nomination to a full Senate vote on condition the FBI probe sexual misconduct allegations
'Smear campaign' accusations
The prospect of a new investigation puts Kavanaugh's nomination in jeopardy. But it also allows Republicans an opportunity to clear the judge's name for what is a lifelong position on the nation's highest court.
A full Senate vote was expected Tuesday, but the FBI investigation that has now been ordered means that could be delayed past October 5. The Democrats have demanded the FBI probe, which only the White House can order, before Thursday's testimony. On Thursday, Trump wrote on Twitter that Kavanaugh provided "powerful, honest" testimony, adding that "the Senate must vote!"
Two other women have also come forward with allegations that Kavanaugh engaged in sexual misconduct. Republicans have argued Democrats are engaged in a smear campaign aimed at halting a Senate vote and scoring political points before November's mid-term elections.
cw/sms (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)