One of the Democratic senators whose behind-the-scenes talks with a Republican colleague helped lead to an FBI investigation of allegations against Brett Kavanaugh said he believes the probe will help mend deep divisions in the Senate.
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“It could help heal the Senate, which is bitterly divided over Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination,” Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, told ABC News’ Dan Harris in an interview Saturday on “Good Morning America.”
Coons, a Senate Judiciary Committee member, said the findings of the investigation will likely lead to one of two outcomes.
“It could help Judge Kavanaugh move forward with less of a cloud over him, or it could make it clearer that he is unfit to serve,” the senator said.
Coons was among the Democratic members of the Republican-led committee who on Friday met to the side with Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, a crucial swing vote. Flake, in an apparent about-face, subsequently announced he would not vote to confirm Kavanaugh unless there was an FBI investigation into the sexual misconduct allegations against him.
Coons told “GMA” he believes Flake’s earlier encounter with two women upset about his initial support for Kavanaugh also played a part in the senator’s decision.
The women, Ana Maria Archila and Maria Gallagher, confronted Flake as he entered an elevator on his way to the committee meeting Friday morning, telling him they were sexual assault survivors.
“They are important in principle among those many [sexual assault] survivors who have come forward and shared their stories with us,” Coons said of the two women. “My friend Jeff Flake listened to his heart and listened to their concerns and to his doubts and came to an agreement for a one-week, limited-in-time-and-scope investigation into the credible allegations against Judge Kavanaugh. I think that was significant.”
Christine Blasey Ford, a psychology professor at Palo Alto University and a research psychologist at Stanford University, alleges that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a small party in suburban Maryland when they were teens in the early 1980s. She testified under oath before the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.
Kavanaugh, a Republican federal judge, has repeatedly denied the allegations and reasserted his innocence in his own testimony Thursday. Visibly angry and fighting back tears, Kavanaugh said the claims have “destroyed” his family and his “good name,” and he blamed Democrats for turning his confirmation process into a “circus.”
President Donald Trump later on Friday granted the Senate’s request, ordering the FBI to conduct a “supplemental investigation” into his nominee for the nation’s highest court.
As part of the investigation, the FBI will be interviewing the second woman to accuse Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, Deborah Ramirez, who told her story to The New Yorker earlier this month.
“We can confirm the FBI has reached out to interview Ms. Ramirez, and she has agreed to cooperate with their investigation,” Ramirez’s attorney, John Clune, said in a statement. “Out of respect for the integrity of the process, we will have no further comment at this time.”
Coons told “GMA” that the FBI probe will be important for bringing facts before the Senate about the allegations, and that it “would make a critical difference in the final votes of several undecided senators, both Republican and Democrat.”
But he said that no matter what the investigation finds, he will oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination based on his judicial record.
“I decided I would vote against Judge Kavanaugh based on his legal theories and his jurisprudence before Dr. Ford’s disturbing allegations ever came forward,” Coons said.