Not so fast

So. It flipped at the last minute. You probably already know by now, and if you don’t you probably don’t care (this is very US-centric, but then again when the US sneezes the world catches antibiotic-resistant TB, plus there is the whole hostile indifference to women issue), but here it is anyway. Jeff Flake voted with the Republicans to move Kavanaugh from the committee to the full Senate, but he also made that conditional on an FBI investigation first. Which they should have done all along. Flake on his own would have left things as they are because Pence would break the tie, but it turned out Flake wasn’t on his own.

But Flake — as well as Minnesota Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar — suggested in the moments before the 11-10 vote that there were other Republicans who felt the same as Flake. As in, they would not support Kavanaugh’s confirmation unless and until the FBI investigation happens. Those senators are, presumably, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.
None of what Flake did was binding — until the White House and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell weighed in. McConnell formally requested the White House to instruct the FBI to do supplemental background check, which “would be limited to current credible allegations against the nominee and must be completed no later than one week from today.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee announcement means that McConnell, as expected, has bowed to the fact that he does not currently have the votes. Presumably, Flake would not have a) made the one-week FBI investigation request and then b) voted for Kavanaugh to move favorably out of committee unless c) he knew that he had Murkowski and/or Collins (or some other Republican) was with him. (Murkowski confirmed to reporters after the session that she supports Flake’s proposal.)

President Donald Trump bowed to the inevitable on Friday afternoon, ordering an FBI investigation.

That’s an improvement on the grim march to the gallows of this morning.

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