Brett Kavanaugh FBI Investigation: Does the White House or Senate Have to Call for Probe?

President Donald Trump said Friday that Republicans "have to do what they think is right" with regard to the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh, after drama unfolded before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, who ultimately did vote "yes" to advance Kavanaugh's final vote to the Senate floor, said he wanted the FBI to investigate the claims against Kavanaugh and put off the final vote for a week. Otherwise, Flake said he would not be voting for Kavanaugh.

The apparent threat by Flake immediately led to questions about just who had the actual authority to charge the FBI with probing the allegations made by Christine Blasey Ford.

While Trump stated he supported whatever the Republicans thought was best, it is the president himself who can solely order the FBI to investigate the matter.

The FBI is under the executive branch unlike the Senate Judiciary, which is part of the legislature.

However, Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley could directly ask Trump to have the FBI conduct a seventh background investigation on Kavanaugh, former FBI assistant director Ron Hosko told NPR.

kavanaugh fbi white house probe
Republican Senator Jeff Flake, from Arizona, listens to Democratic senators speak during a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting, in Washington, D.C., on September 28. Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla

"This is not an FBI criminal investigation. It's a background investigation. And in this particular role, the FBI is, in effect, a contractor for the White House," Hosko said. "And so if the White House were to ask the FBI to reopen its file and go conduct the investigation, the FBI could do that. I think they could do it swiftly, effectively and report back within days. "

That would put the next stage of the Kavanaugh saga back into Trump's hands. The president had chastised the committee for how it handled the confirmation process, and he was eager to have Kavanaugh confirmed well before the midterm elections.

Trump continued to show support for Kavanaugh after his fiery testimony Thursday in rebuttal to Ford's.

"Judge Kavanaugh showed America exactly why I nominated him. His testimony was powerful, honest, and riveting. Democrats' search and destroy strategy is disgraceful and this process has been a total sham and effort to delay, obstruct, and resist. The Senate must vote!" Trump tweeted.

Judge Kavanaugh showed America exactly why I nominated him. His testimony was powerful, honest, and riveting. Democrats’ search and destroy strategy is disgraceful and this process has been a total sham and effort to delay, obstruct, and resist. The Senate must vote!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 27, 2018

Grassley appeared to have the votes necessary to send Kavanaugh's final confirmation vote to the Senate floor, potentially ending one of the most contentious processes for the Supreme Court in the country's history.

Instead, Flake said during the Committee's hearing Friday that he would not vote on the floor to confirm Kavanaugh unless the FBI had further investigated the sexual assault claims.

Flake did vote yes in the committee's vote, but his possible withdrawal from the final vote would put Kavanaugh's future in major jeopardy and serve as a potential disaster for Republicans and President Donald Trump in the midterm elections.

Flake, along with Senators Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, Joe Manchin and Heidi Heitkamp, is viewed as a key swing vote that would make or break Kavanaugh's confirmation.