Georgia U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson indicated on Friday that he was open to hearing from the FBI after a GOP colleague requested delaying a confirmation vote on Brett Kavanaugh until after the agency investigates sexual assault allegations levied against the Supreme Court nominee.
“I want to have all the facts I can have and make sure that everybody who’s got questions has the answers they need,” Isakson said in a brief interview on Friday afternoon. “I’ll never argue (against) more information and more facts, but I do know when dilatory tactics are going on to prevent a vote. And I hope that’s not what this is.”
Isakson’s comments came less than an hour after Jeff Flake of Arizona threw GOP leaders’ confirmation timetable into disarray during a protracted and suspenseful Judiciary Committee vote. Flake eventually agreed to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination to the floor but asked Senate leaders to delay a confirmation vote for up to a week to allow the FBI to investigate allegations made by accuser Christine Blasey Ford.
GOP leaders had planned to hold an initial procedural vote on Saturday, which would have teed up a final confirmation vote as soon as Tuesday. John Cornyn, the Senate’s No. 2 Republican, later told reporters that the chamber would request an FBI investigation to be completed no later than Oct. 5.
Isakson suggested he was willing to wait for the FBI as long as Flake was not delaying a vote simply to obstruct the process.
The three-term Republican had initially backed Kavanaugh before Ford’s allegations surfaced but then stepped back, vowing to take in all of the information from Thursday’s hearing with the nominee and Ford. He still has not said definitively how he will vote beyond backing a procedural motion on the Senate floor, but he did suggest he could support Kavanaugh if the FBI investigation did not uncover new information .
“What I’ve said all along is that I like Kavanaugh and he’s well-qualified and I would vote for him. I also said I want to hear all the information as it comes and I’ll make a final decision based on the totality of that information,” he said.
Meanwhile, Georgia U.S. Sen. David Perdue committed on Friday to supporting Kavanaugh regardless of what the FBI probe uncovered.
Neither Isakson nor Perdue are considered swing votes on the nominee. Still, the pressure facing the two lawmakers is substantial.
Phone calls from concerned constituents have streamed in this week as the Ford-Kavanaugh hearing captivated metro Atlanta and much of the country. On Friday, roughly 70 women picketed Isakson’s Cobb County office to protest the circuit court judge.
“Brett Kavanaugh just proved that regardless of the allegations against him, which I do believe are true, he cannot be an impartial judge,” said Rebecca Ford, a protester who had watched parts of Kavanaugh’s testimony. “For a life-time appointee, we need someone who is fair, honest and impartial.”
Prominent officials from across the political spectrum have also weighed in over the last several days. Gov. Nathan Deal said he “wholeheartedly” supported Kavanaugh and encouraged Isakson and Perdue to confirm him.
Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams said she was disappointed that Thursday’s hearing “devolved very quickly to partisan attacks” and praised Ford for coming forward.
The weight of the decision facing the Senate did not escape Isakson, who said both Kavanaugh and Ford were “very powerful” in their testimony.
“They both acquitted themselves well,” he said. “Unfortunately, this is one of those deals where nobody knows what’s true. But the buck stops with the Senate, and everybody’s seeking the truth because in the end we all want to do the right thing.”
Staff writer Rosalind Bentley contributed to this article.
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