A day and a half after Donald Trump tried to trick the nation into believing that he was allowing the FBI to conduct a full unlimited investigation into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, it looks like he’s now backing down for real – and it appears to be because GOP Senator Jeff Flake has forced him into it. Shortly after Flake publicly stated that he wouldn’t be satisfied with an FBI probe which simply provided “cover” for Kavanaugh, insiders revealed that Trump appears to have in fact changed his instructions to the FBI.
While being interviewed at a public event today, Jeff Flake said this about the Brett Kavanaugh probe: “We certainly want the FBI to do a real investigation and we are working to make sure that happens … it does no good to do an investigation that just gives us more cover.” Shortly after that happened, the New York Times reported this: “The White House has authorized the F.B.I. to expand its abbreviated investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh by interviewing anyone it deems necessary as long [as] the review is finished by the end of the week, two people briefed on the matter said on Monday.”
This isn’t necessarily surprising. Flake is the reason the probe is happening at all. He publicly stated that he would be a “no” vote in the full Senate if the FBI investigation didn’t happen. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski then backed him up on his call for an investigation, meaning that the Trump and the GOP wouldn’t have had the votes to confirm Kavanaugh if he didn’t sign off on the probe. Now that Flake is publicly calling for an investigation with no restrictions, it means Trump once again doesn’t have the votes unless he does it Flake’s way.
So now we’ll see what happens next. Will Donald Trump try to find a new way to meddle in the FBI Kavanaugh investigation. Probably. But as Palmer Report pointed out back when the news of the restrictions first surfaced, he lost most of his leverage on this once his secret scheme was publicly exposed. Jeff Flake is trying to end up looking like the good guy on this, so it’s not surprising that he’s once again forcing Trump’s hand.
What’s significant here is that after Donald Trump posted his tweet on Saturday night, inside sources told various major news outlets that the restrictions were still in place – but this time around, inside sources are telling the NY Times that Trump truly has given the FBI the power to do a investigation properly. This newly uninhibited probe has the power to not only sink Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination, but to expose him to significant criminal liability. We’ll see if this prompts him to go ahead and drop out.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report