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Photo: Jim Bourg, Pool/Getty Images

After watching Brett Kavanaugh evade Sen. Dick Durbin's question about why he wouldn't publicly call for an FBI investigation, I asked sources close to him the same question.

Driving the news: The question became more urgent after Republicans eventually asked President Trump to order a "limited" one-week FBI probe into the sexual assault claims against Kavanaugh.

Here's what I've learned from sources with direct knowledge, and from conversations in real time as the events unfolded:

  • When the Washington Post first broke the story of Christine Blasey Ford's allegation that Kavanaugh assaulted her in high school, the team around the judge thought they could squash the story quickly. At first, they were reluctant to contemplate a public hearing let alone an FBI investigation.
  • White House Counsel Don McGahn and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have always worried they would lose control of the confirmation process if the FBI started a new background investigation.
  • "You have to have this open-ended 'let's search for anything or everything,'" a source involved in the process told me.

But, but: Sources close to Kavanaugh told me that while they obviously would've preferred a quick vote without a last-minute demand from Flake for an investigation, things may still work out.

Republicans have already voted Kavanaugh out of committee and they've only agreed to an investigation limited in time and scope. It could provide the assurances the wavering senators say they need to vote for him. And given Kavanaugh's friend and alleged witness Mark Judge has already said he doesn't recall any attack, it may be impossible for the FBI to gather evidence corroborating Ford's story.

Go deeper

1 hour ago - World

U.S. strikes Iran-backed militia structures in Syria

President Biden at the Pentagon on Feb. 10. Photo: Alex Brandon - Pool/Getty Images

The United States on Thursday carried out an airstrike against facilities in Syria linked to an Iran-backed militia group, the Pentagon announced.

The state of play: The strike, approved by President Biden, comes "in response to recent attacks against American and Coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats to those personnel," Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement.

Senate parliamentarian rules $15 minimum wage cannot be included in relief package

Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

The Senate parliamentarian ruled Thursday that the provision to increase the minimum wage to $15/hour cannot be included in the broader $1.9 trillion COVID relief package.

Why it matters: It's now very likely that any increase in the minimum wage will need bipartisan support, as the provision cannot be passed with the simple Senate majority that Democrats are aiming to use for President Biden's rescue bill.

Dave Lawler, author of World
1 hour ago - World

Biden's big Saudi reset

Mohammed bin Salman. Photo: Ryad Kramdi/AFP via Getty

President Biden spoke with Saudi Arabia's King Salman this evening ahead of the release of a CIA report expected to implicate the king's son, and the kingdom's de facto ruler, in the murder of a U.S.-based journalist, Jamal Khashoggi.

Why it matters: In one month, Biden has ended support for the Saudi war effort in Yemen, frozen a large arms deal and snubbed Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) by declining to speak with him directly.