President Donald Trump has ordered an FBI investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against his nominee for the US Supreme Court.
A Senate committee earlier voted to approve Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the top US court.
But a Republican member only backed the move on the understanding that such an inquiry would occur.
As a result, a full Senate vote on Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation has been delayed for up to a week.
Judge Kavanaugh, an appeal court judge, denies allegations from at least three women.
On Thursday, the committee heard testimony from Christine Blasey Ford, a professor of psychology in California, who says Judge Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers in the 1980s.
Judge Kavanaugh also testified, angrily rejecting the allegation he had ever assaulted her or anyone else. He accused Democrats of politicising the process and harming his family and good name.
Despite ordering the FBI investigation, President Trump has continued to defend Judge Kavanaugh.
What will the investigation do?
Announcing the move on Friday, President Trump said: “I’ve ordered the FBI to conduct a supplemental investigation to update Judge Kavanaugh’s file. As the Senate has requested, this update must be limited in scope and completed in less than one week.”
The inquiry will involve the FBI reopening its previously completed background check on Judge Kavanaugh. This might mean going back to old witnesses – or speaking to new ones.
Friday saw Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee throw out Democrat attempts to subpoena Mark Judge, a friend of Judge Kavanaugh who Dr Ford said had witnessed the assault on her 36 years ago.
Mr Judge had told the committee in a written statement that he did not recall any such incident.
Mr Judge’s lawyer Barbara Van Gelder said: “If the FBI or any law enforcement agency requests Mr Judge’s co-operation, he will answer any and all questions posed to him.”
Responding to President Trump’s statement, Judge Kavanaugh said “I’ve done everything they have requested and will continue to co-operate”.
Dr Ford’s lawyer, Debra Katz, said her client welcomed the step but questioned the time limit of a week.
“A thorough FBI investigation is critical to developing all the relevant facts… No artificial limits as to time or scope should be imposed on this investigation.”