By Carlo Versano
After nearly two weeks of resistance, President Trump ordered an FBI investigation into allegations of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, whose future seat on the nation's highest court had been suddenly thrown into doubt thanks to the wavering support of Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ).
Trump's order came at the end of another dramatic day in Washington, when Senator Flake, considered to be a key swing vote in Kavanaugh's confirmation, requested a delay on a floor vote so that the FBI could look into accusations raised by three women about sexual misconduct by Kavanaugh during his high school and collegiate years.
The Senate Judiciary Committee granted that request, saying in a statement, "The supplemental FBI background investigation would be limited to current credible allegations" and set a deadline of one week.
Earlier in the day Flake, after huddling with Democrats and being confronted by protestors, said that while he supported Kavanaugh's nomination, it was under the condition that there be a one-week delay for a "limited in scope" investigation. "We owe them due diligence," Flake said of Kavanaugh's named accusers, three women in total. That was a significant reversal from his position just a few hours earlier, when he'd indicated he was a "yes."
Around that same time President Trump said he had not thought "even a little bit" about a replacement for Kavanaugh. He added that he found Thursday's testimony of one of Kavanaugh's accusers, Prof. Christine Blasey Ford, to be credible and "very compelling." He said he would leave the final decision on what comes next to the Senate.
Trump also seemed to put some distance between himself and his nominee when he told undecided Senators like Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Susan Collins (R-ME) to "do what they think is right and be comfortable with themselves.”
After two days of marathon testimony, shouting, crying, and all-out partisan warfare carried live on television and social media, it appeared as of Friday evening that Kavanaugh did not, at the moment, have enough "yes" votes to join the Supreme Court, which begins its next session on Monday.
Now it will fall to the FBI to carry out a high-profile, multi-faceted investigation into decades-old allegations in a few days ー with the country looking on.