Sep 28, 2018

Axios PM

1 big thing: Jeff Flake calls in the FBI

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Democrats are getting their requested FBI investigation into Brett Kavanaugh, setting up a week of tension as investigators launch a time-limited probe into the allegations that surfaced in recent weeks.

Driving the news: Jeff Flake publicly changed his course on the Kavanaugh nomination after being personally challenged by a pair of sexual assault survivors.

The tale of the tape from this riveting day in D.C.:

9:26 a.m: Flake said he was a yes on Kavanaugh.

9:30 a.m.: On his way to the Judiciary Committee vote, Flake was confronted by two sexual assault survivors, who refused to allow his elevator door to close. Their quotes were captured on live video:

  • Ana Maria Archila to Flake: “What you are doing is allowing someone who actually violated a woman to sit on the Supreme Court."
  • Maria Gallagher to Flake: “Look at me and tell me that it doesn’t matter what happened to me, that you will let people like that go into the highest court of the land and tell everyone what they can do to their bodies."

The senator then reached the Judiciary Committee hearing, where he didn't speak and looked shaken.

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

12:17 p.m.: Flake left the room, and eventually others joined him, including his Democratic friend Chris Coons of Delaware.

  • As the minutes passed, reporters began to realize that the result looked less certain.
  • Chairman Chuck Grassley and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein also went to that room, returning and leaving several more times.

1:51 p.m.: Flake returned, and Grassley allowed him to speak:

  • Flake said he wanted a week delay on the final floor vote to allow for a limited FBI probe into the Kavanaugh allegations.
  • Grassley started the vote, which passed 11-10, with Flake voting yes.

3:35 p.m. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn said there will be a supplemental FBI investigation lasting no more than a week.

The key questions: What if the week ends with the investigation ongoing, or if the probe uncovers new evidence outside the existing claims?

Between the lines: Such a delay presents both peril and promise for Kavanaugh. On the one hand, it means investigators will likely talk to Mark Judge. On the other hand, if a probe doesn't turn up new evidence, it gives senators on the fence an easier time voting yes.

The big picture: All eyes are now on Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell.

Bonus: Pic du jour
Photo: Said Khatib/AFP/Getty Images

A Palestinian protester on a wheelchair throws a stone toward Israeli forces during clashes along the Israeli border fence, east of Gaza City.

2. What you missed
  1. Facebook has revealed a “security issue” in which a code flaw could have allowed hackers to take over upwards of 50 million user accounts. Details.
  2. Michael Avenatti is calling for a "full and complete FBI investigation" into Kavanaugh, with impeachment at stake, to become a 2020 litmus test. More.
  3. The Trump administration made the prediction that the world will warm by about 7.2°F by 2100. More.
  4. U.S. consumer spending in August rose at the slowest pace since February. Why it matters.
  5. A powerful 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck northern Indonesia today. The strongest quake was followed by a damaging tsunami in Palu, the provincial capital with a population of about 335,000. Go deeper.
3. 1 very 2018 thing

Next season's Kevin Spacey-free "House of Cards" trailer, out November 2, declares:

  • “The reign of the middle-aged white man is over.”
  • "The trailer released Thursday depicts Robin Wright’s Claire Underwood taking over as president after her husband’s death in the Netflix series," the AP reports.

See the trailer.