Trump says FBI has 'free rein' in Kavanaugh investigation

FILE- Judge Brett Kavanaugh is sworn in to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington Thursday Sept. 27 2018

Senate Judiciary Committee advances Kavanaugh -- with a catch

He added that he was particularly interested in hearing more from a high school friend of Kavanaugh's who has agreed to cooperate with the Federal Bureau of Investigation probe.

He did not specify exactly what would be in or out of bounds, but agents in the coming days likely will seek to question anyone who accuser Christine Blasey Ford said attended a gathering in 1982 where she alleged Kavanaugh assaulted her.

It was also not clear whether the FBI would investigate a series of allegations made by a third woman, Julie Swetnick, who has said that she witnessed a severely drunken Kavanaugh mistreat women at parties in high school and that he was present at parties where high school boys gang-raped teenage girls. She had accused Kavanaugh of groping her and attempting to remove her clothes. Dick Durbin, a Democrat from IL, said it was his understanding there would be an FBI investigation of "the outstanding allegations, the three of them", but Republicans have not said whether that was their understanding as well. During his hearing to address the allegations on Thursday, Kavanaugh called Swetnick's claims a "farce".

Jeff Flake announced he would vote to confirm Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, the Arizona Republican was confronted with the consequences.

In their attempts to delay a vote, some Democrats have jumped from demanding an FBI investigation not only on the Ford charge, but also on flimsy stories such as a New Yorker piece about a former Yale classmate who accused Kavanaugh of exposing himself at a booze-filled dormitory party.

Recognizing that Flake and a handful of other senators' votes appeared contingent upon the investigation, Republican leaders and the White House relented. Lawmakers asked that the inquiry be limited in scope and completed in less than one week, after which they plan to hold a final confirmation vote on Kavanaugh.

Almost immediately after Flake emerged from a back room Friday, where he was huddling with Democrats on the compromise plan for an investigation, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, began the vote on Kavanaugh's nomination. Committee spokesmen did not return a request for comment to elaborate on what specifically those allegations are.

The panel split along strict party lines with the 11 Republican members backing Kavanaugh and all 10 Democrats voting against the president's controversial nominee - whose lifelong appointment would tilt the top court decisively to the right. But the other two, P.J. Smyth and Leland Ingham Keyser, issued statements denying any knowledge as well. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., alleging that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted an acquaintance on a boat in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1985.

"Notably, Ms. Keyser does not refute Dr. Ford's account, and she has already told the press that she believes Dr. Ford's account", her lawyer wrote.

Maybe Ford was telling the truth, but she offered no substantial corroboration for her charge against Kavanaugh.

The other person named by Blasey Ford as having taken part in her attack, Kavanaugh's school friend Judge, said in a letter dated Friday that he would "co-operate with any law enforcement agency that is assigned to confidentially investigate these allegations".

Flake told The Atlantic that he plans to vote in favor of Kavanaugh's confirmation, "unless they turn up something - and they might". "His face was white and very uncomfortable saying "hello" back", she said.

Hours earlier, Ford spoke at the public hearing.

Swetnick has alleged in a sworn declaration that Kavanaugh was present at a party in the early 1980s where she was gang raped. Kavanaugh has denied the accusation.

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