The US Senate Judiciary Committee has approved Donald’s Trump’s Supreme Court nomination - pending a potential one-week delay to the next stage in the process.
Under normal circumstances, the committee's approval would have seen Judge Brett Kavanaugh facing a final confirmation vote in the US Senate early next week.
However, in a dramatic intervention, Arizona Senator Jeff Flake asked for that to be delayed for up to a week, to allow for an FBI investigation into the allegations of sexual assault against Judge Kavanaugh.
It remains unclear what will happen next – as the committee does not have the authority to delay the vote.
Senator Jeff Flake after speaking during the Senate Judiciary Committee, 28-09-2018. Image: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
Senator Flake warned that if Senate leaders do not agree to the delay – he will reject Judge Kavanaugh in the final vote.
Without his support – and that of a few other key Republicans – Judge Kavanaugh would find himself rejected.
"I think it would be proper to delay the floor vote for up to but not more than one week, in order to let the FBI do an investigation - limited in time and scope - to the current allegations that are there," said Senator Flake.
US President Donald Trump at the White House, 28-09-2018. Image: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP/Press Association Images
In the minutes after the dramatic hearing, US President Donald Trump remained optimistic on his pick’s chances – insisting he hasn’t thought about a replacement nomination “even a little bit.”
He said senators have to do "what they think is right” and “be comfortable with themselves” when it comes to Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination.
Three women have come forward to accuse Judge Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct or assault in the weeks since he was nominated by the US President.
He has vehemently denied all the allegations.
Dr Christine Blasey Ford
Appearing in front of the committee yesterday, one of the women, California professor Christine Blasey Ford, gave a harrowing account of his alleged assault on her 36 years ago.
She claimed he held her down and groped her during a high school party in 1982.
She said she feared for her life during the alleged incident when she was 15-years-old and he was 17 – and dismissed suggestions it could be a case of mistaken identity, insisting she was "100%" certain Mr Kavanaugh was her alleged attacker.
For his part, Judge Kavanaugh claimed the allegations were “part of a calculated political hit” against him and said his reputation had been “totally and permanently destroyed” by the claims.