Murkowski and Sullivan back FBI investigation of Kavanaugh

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski said Friday she supported delaying the final vote on the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh so the FBI could have up to one week to supplement its background investigation of the Supreme Court nominee.

The statement from Murkowski, R-Alaska, followed a demand from U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., for the one-week delay so the FBI could investigate the sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh. With the Republican's 51-49 majority in the Senate, GOP leaders asked the White House Friday to reopen its background investigation into Kavanaugh, and President Donald Trump ordered the FBI to do so, according to national news reports.

Murkowski, seen as a swing vote for Kavanaugh's confirmation, has yet to say publicly how she will vote. U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, has publicly stated his support for Kavanaugh. That support has not changed, Matt Shuckerow, the senator's deputy communications director, said in an email on Friday.

"That being said, he will be closely reviewing Thursday's hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee and the FBI's supplemental investigation," Shuckerow said.

Murkowski's office didn't respond to specific questions Friday, but released the following statement from the senator:

"After a full day of testimony, I continued to express concerns to my colleagues about how this process has been handled by both sides of the aisle. In order to fully and fairly complete our due diligence, allowing the FBI up to one week to supplement its background investigation is appropriate. It is important to have a fair process for the sake of both Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford, as well as the integrity of both the judicial branch and the Senate confirmation process."

Meanwhile, Sullivan was at home in Washington Friday recovering from an emergency appendectomy. He was in "good health and good spirits" and expected to be back at the office Monday, Shuckerow said.


Sullivan had been diagnosed with appendicitis early Thursday and underwent surgery that afternoon, missing the daylong Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in which Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, a woman who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault, testified.

"I want Alaskans to know that while I was unable to watch the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in real-time yesterday, I am currently in the process of viewing it in its entirety," Sullivan said in the statement. "Out of respect for this process, Professor Ford, and Judge Kavanaugh, I will wait before offering further thoughts on this hearing."

Thank you for all the well wishes and kind words following my very unexpected appendectomy yesterday. I’m doing well and...

Posted by Senator Dan Sullivan on Friday, September 28, 2018

Sullivan, who has made combating domestic abuse and sexual assault a major policy focus, said in the statement Friday that any allegation of sexual assault must be taken seriously.

"While the Senate Judiciary Committee and its staff have been investigating such allegations diligently, I respect and support the desire of my colleagues for additional information and the decision of the Senate Majority and President for a supplemental FBI investigation, which will hopefully allow this process to move forward in a timely and fair fashion," he said.

Alaskans rallied in front of Murkowski's and Sullivan's offices in downtown Anchorage both Thursday and Friday opposing Kavanaugh's confirmation.

Tegan Hanlon

Tegan Hanlon was a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News between 2013 and 2019. She now reports for Alaska Public Media.