The nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh is moving to the full U.S. Senate after an expected narrow vote in the Judiciary Committee, where a key Republican asked to delay the floor vote.
The committee vote, cast at approximately 1:55 p.m. Eastern, split 11-10 along party lines with Sen. Jeff Flake casting the deciding vote as expected.
The vote, scheduled for 1:30 by Chairman Chuck Grassley, was held up when Flake --- known for his lukewarm support of Republican efforts --- was surrounded by Democrats in an adjoining room.
Fox News personalities awaiting the vote observed that Flake had been cornered by Sen. Chris Coons, who was described as a "good friend" of the Arizona senator who is not returning after this year.
Returning from the hidden arm-twisting effort, Flake told the committee that he would vote to move the nomination to the full Senate but was asking Republican leaders to delay a full Senate vote until the FBI investigates --- with a one-week deadline -- sexual harassment accusations made against Kavanaugh.
"This country is being ripped apart here," Flake told fellow committee members, "and we need to do due diligence."
Republicans hold a one-vote majority on the powerful committee, where Flake announced early Friday morning that he will vote with the majority to pass Kavanaugh's nomination to the Senate with a recommendation for confirmation.
Democrats have repeatedly claimed they want a thorough FBI investigation of Kavanuagh, but Republicans have countered that the nominee went through six background checks and the FBI is not equipped to investigate the public allegations against Kavanaugh that include sexual assault and, more recently, participating in drug-fueled rape parties as a teen.
It appeared that Flake wouldn't vote for Kavanaugh in the closely divided Senate unless GOP leaders agreed to an investigation.
Sen. Lindsey Graham told reporters that Democrats were begging Flake for a delay in Kavanaugh's nomination process, and "nice guy" Flake wanted to act fairly so he gave in.
"I wouldn't have done it," Graham, who blasted his Democratic colleagues Thursday at the hearing, told reporters.
Flake, the only uncommitted Republican on the committee, announced in a statement Friday morning that he planned to vote for Kavanaugh despite his concerns about last-minute public accusations from Dr. Christine Ford.
In a statement, Flake called Ford's Thursday testimony "compelling" but described Kavanaugh's "persuasive" response to her claims that he physically assaulted as a teenager in 1982.
Flake said he left the Thursday hearing with "as much doubt as certainty" after hearing from both Ford and Kavanaugh.
"What I do know," Flake wrote, "is that our system of justice affords a presumption of innocence to the accused, absent corroborating evidence. That is what binds us to the rule of law."
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