Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a swing vote in the GOP’s efforts to confirm Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, said Tuesday an FBI probe into sexual misconduct allegations against him would help clear things up.
Republican leaders have said that’s not the FBI’s role and have deflected Democrats’ calls for such a probe, but Ms. Murkowski’s comment could breath new life into the demand.
“It would sure clear up all the questions, wouldn’t it?” the Alaska Republican told reporters when asked if the FBI should get involved.
Democrats said the FBI performed a similar role in 1991 when sexual harassment allegations were made against Justice Clarence Thomas during his confirmation hearing.
The Justice Department countered that the parameters for FBI involvement in nominations was changed during the Obama administration, and the bureau has no role to play in this sort of allegation.
The chief accusation from Christine Blasey Ford is that Judge Kavanaugh attempted to sexually assault her during a high school party in the early 1980s. A second accuser has come forward to say the judge exposed himself to her at a college party.
Judge Kavanaugh has denied the accusations, and neither woman’s account has yet been corroborated by evidence or direct witnesses.
Ms. Murkowski is one of several crucial swing votes for Republicans. Others include Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona.
The GOP cannot afford to lose more than one of those if it wants to guarantee the judge’s confirmation — though it’s not clear whether Ms. Murkowski’s comment was a line in the sand for earning her vote.
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