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Paul McLeod @pdmcleod
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Chuck Grassley kicks off today’s Senate Judiciary Committee vote. With Jeff Flake on board, Republicans are expected to report favorably on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination by 11-10 over Democrat opposition.
Democrats making a last-ditch effort to subpoena Mark Judge, the other man Christina Blasey Ford claimed was in the room when Kavanaugh assaulted her. (Republicans will defeat this motion)
Here are the 11 Republican senators expected to move the Kavanaugh nomination forward.
The Democratic motion to subpoena Mark Judge is defeated on a party line 11-10 vote.
Democrats are angry about the procedure. “This is totally ridiculous. What a railroad job,” said Sen. Mazie Hirono.

Republicans pass a motion to vote on Brett Kavanaugh at 1:30
Democrats are walking out of the committee room in protest as Grassley talks.
It looks like the timeline will be:

1:30pm today — Judiciary Committee votes favorably on Kavanaugh

Saturday — Cloture motion filed

Monday — Cloture vote

[Up to 30 hours of debate]

(Probably) Tuesday — Final Senate vote on Kavanaugh.
Women are standing in silent protest at the back of the Judiciary Committee room. They're now being led out by security.
Lindsey Graham: “I know I’m a single white male from South Carolina and I’ve been told I should shut up, but I’m going to not shut up if that’s ok."
Graham says things are so pitched this time because “the middle seat,” in other words the swing seat on the Supreme Court, is up for grabs. “Gorsuch was an even swap for Scalia” but this seat is high stakes, says Graham.
Graham says he feels sorry for Christine Blasey Ford and he believes something happened to her sometime somewhere, but it wasn’t by Kavanaugh.

Says it’s not in keeping with rule of law to expect someone to prove they didn’t commit a crime when the place and date aren’t known.
…huh…. Lindsey Graham just said if he becomes Judiciary Committee chairman next year “I’m going to remember this.”
“I don’t believe ‘boof’ is flatulance and I don’t believe ‘the devil’s triangle’ is a drinking game,” says Sheldon Whitehouse, refuting Kavanaugh’s explanations of yearbook posts.
Can I put on my Canadian toque for one moment and say that an openly partisan Supreme Court, where the spoils of elections are to fill red or blue seats, is one of the very most perverted and fucked up aspects of the American system.

Thank you. And sorry.
Ok this is weird. Every senator on Judiciary Committee is giving closing statements of sorts, but Jeff Flake was just skipped over and now he’s walking out of the hearing room. So he’s just going to say nothing about why he decided to support Kavanaugh?
Grassley skipped right over Flake to the next Republican, Mike Crapo who looked confused and asked Flake if he wanted to talk. Flake held up his hand and shook his head no, then got up and left.
Coons, Klobuchar and Leahy went out with/after Flake. Not sure if they’re talking or what’s going on.
Dems could be making a last-minute pitch to flip Flake to a no vote. Which, if so… good luck with that.
So the Democratic Senators who left with Flake came back in after we saw a glimpse of them huddling just outside the door. Flake has not re-entered the hearing room.
Lotttttta chatter over on the Democrat side of the bench. I definitely don’t think they flipped Flake or anything so dramatic, but whatever’s going on they sure are chatty.
Oh hey theoretical-but-in-practice-probably-not-swing-vote Ben Sasse just emerged from the back area where we last saw Flake go. This is all weird.
Let’s just say it’s been a steady revolving door of Senators going in and out. We have no idea what’s going on. Still no sign of Flake.
Speeches are over, things are still weird as hell. Towards the end every single Democrat, except Blumenthal who was speaking, was outside of the hearing room. Lotta speculation about what’s going down.
Ok I got a glimpse int the back room and there is a massive huddle of Senators with Jeff Flake at the middle. I even heard someone, I think Cornyn, say his name.
A bunch of Democrats just came back in. Some Republicans, Cornyn and Ted Cruz I could make out, are talking to Flake.

HUH Whitehouse says “given what’s happening in the end room” the vote needs to be delayed.
*anti-room not end room.

Grassley is not delaying vote, despite Whitehouse saying he’d get unanimous debate to do so.
My God, Flake may actually be on the brink of changing his vote.
Am told CNN is reporting Collins and Murkowski, the other potential GOP swing votes, are also here talking with Flake, though I haven’t spotted them from my vantage point into the room.
Di-Fi and Grassley huddling, several other senators checking their phones. Looks like they’re all waiting on which way Flake comes down.
Republicans do not look thrilled, I’ll say that.
Still no sign of Flake, and there’s a bunch of Democrat senators still in the back room (most notably Coons, who Flake initially gestured to come with him.)

We in theory are supposed to vote on Kavanaugh in one minute.
Coons is back! Goes right to talk to Feinstein.
Coons and Feinstein talk as chairman Grassley heads out to the back room.

Wow, we don’t know yet but it’s possible the women yelling at Flake in the elevator just had a massive impact.
Ok Grassley just came back into the room for a moment then headed back out. Hard to read his face because his default expression already looks kind of dour. Hardly any senators in the hearing room right now, most are in the back room.
The Judiciary Committee was supposed to vote on Kavanaugh 10 minutes ago. Currently no sign when that’s going to happen.

Republicans have clearly hit a roadblock. To quote the @StevenTDennis mantra “When you have the votes, you vote. When you don’t have the votes, you talk."
@StevenTDennis Republican senators flooding back in now.
@StevenTDennis As are Dems. Seems some agreement has been reached!
@StevenTDennis Just caught sight of Flake. Him and ranking Democrat Dianne Feinstein are talking one-on-one.
@StevenTDennis Aaand Flake and Grassley just went into another room together (couldn’t see if Feinstein did too, but seems likely.) Looks like whatever this is is in the final stages of being worked out.
@StevenTDennis I realize this body language, facial expression, whose talking to whom stuff may seem silly but it’s exactly how we learned Obamacare repeal was going down.
@StevenTDennis We’re back! Grassley says there is a motion before the committee.
@StevenTDennis Flake has returned. He’s going to speak.
@StevenTDennis BREAKING: Flake is calling for a one-week delay for a floor vote so that the FBI can do an investigation.
@StevenTDennis Flake WILL vote to move the nomination forward but only on that condition.
@StevenTDennis Flake describes this as an “agreement.” But now there’s total confusion about what’s being voted on, Grassley trying to start the vote over Dem objections.
@StevenTDennis Flake votes aye. It’s done, the Judiciary committee will approve of the Kavanaugh nomination but Flake says he has an agreement on a one-week FBI investigation before a final vote.
@StevenTDennis Lindsey Graham is arguing against an investigation: “It doesn’t matter what we say here, this’ll be up to Senator Schumer and Senator McConnell."
@StevenTDennis While this is true, Flake can’t force the investigation himself. He only needs one more Republican to join with him to wield enough leverage to demand this. That should be doable.
@StevenTDennis Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar basically dares McConnell to now steam forward without an FBI investigation when there are a few key Republicans who still haven’t said how they’ll vote.
@StevenTDennis Looks like there will be no formal motion, Flake is just declaring his stance. “This country is being ripped apart here, and we’ve got to ensure we do due diligence,” he says.

Says he’ll ask the White House to open the FBI investigation.
@StevenTDennis Grassley quickly adjourns. “What?” declares a surprised Dianne Feinstein.
Ok so to sum up: Flake wants to delay the final Kavanaugh vote until after the FBI investigates (max one week). He has a *lot* of leverage to make this happen, though technically it's not guaranteed.
And there it is! If Murkowski is serious about this her and Flake have the power to make this happen. McConnell/Trump will have little choice but to call in the FBI to investigate Kavanaugh.

As negotiations in Mitch McConnell's office continue, my guess is within an hour they announce a one-week FBI investigation.

It's a significant risk for Kavanaugh - you never know what the FBI could dredge up. But what choice do him/McConnell/Trump have?
A deal has been reached and a statement is coming soon, says Senator John Kennedy exiting the meeting. He of course doesn't say what it is.
NEW: Senate Whip John Cornyn confirms there WILL be a supplemental FBI investigation for up to one week.
Jeff Flake's stand is successful. This is a risk Mitch McConnell did not want to take as the FBI could dig up incriminating evidence against Kavanaugh.
To expand on the "up to" one week, what Flake was calling for was to delay the confirmation vote by one week during which time the FBI would do an investigation. In theory, the FBI could decide to conclude before the full week.
The terms will be key. Will the FBI interview Mark Judge? Will they look into the Ramirez allegations? The Swetnick allegations?
A very popular Jeff Flake says he's a conservative and he hopes to be able to nominate Brett Kavanaugh, but there needs to be a more thorough vetting first.
This is significant: Flake says the FBI investigation will be limited to *credible allegations.* Says it's up to FBI if that includes Ramirez and Swetnick allegations on top of Ford's.
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