Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said the committee would hold a public hearing with Kavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, next Monday. Flake said he told No. 2 Senate Republican leader John Cornyn of Texas on Sunday that "if we didn't give her a chance to be heard, then I would vote no".
But Democrats also said they were planning to attend the hearing even if Ms Ford did not show up. The delay makes it increasingly hard for Kavanaugh to win approval by October 1, when the new session of the Supreme Court begins. It also sets up a public, televised airing of sexual misconduct allegations, reminiscent of the seminal hearings against Clarence Thomas in 1991, that could derail Kavanaugh's nomination altogether.
"Honestly, I feel terribly for him", Trump said of Kavanaugh, "for his wife, who is an incredible, lovely woman, and for his handsome, young daughters". It was unclear whether that goal would have to be adjusted.
Kavanaugh responded through the White House with a categorical denial.
Instead, Grassley had said he'd seek telephone interviews with Kavanaugh and Ford, winning plaudits from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for planning to handle the episode "by the book".
The development came after President Donald Trump showered sympathy on his embattled nominee and as Senate Republicans and Democrats fought determinedly over who should testify at a high-stakes hearing on the allegation just six weeks before major congressional elections.
Feinstein, who has been backed by several fellow Senate Democrats, said Tuesday she was honoring Ford's request to keep the information confidential.
Grassley said an FBI investigation wouldn't have bearing on Ford's testimony so "there is no reason for further delay". If a crime had taken place, it would nearly certainly fall under local jurisdiction, not federal.
Blasey Ford's attorneys told NPR's Morning Edition and other outlets that Ford is willing to testify. Clinton says she thinks Republicans are trying to put Ford "in the dock and try to rush this through". In the last decade, we have seen the Supreme Court legalize gay marriage, reshape campaign finance laws and uphold the Affordable Care Act and Trump's travel ban. "I think he's very much on track".
Unlike Thomas, who allegedly behaved offensively as an adult and fully sober, "you and I know high school kids". She says that a small group of students were drinking at a home in suburban Maryland, and that Kavanaugh and a friend, Mark Judge, were heavily intoxicated.
In television interviews on Monday, Ford's Washington-based lawyer, Debra Katz, said her client would be willing to speak out publicly. "The Committee should have the completed report before any hearing occurs and we ask that you take immediate steps to make sure that we have the FBI's report before we proceed".
Speaking to reporters during a press conference with Poland's president, Trump called Kavanaugh "a great man" and said that he feels "terribly" for the federal appeals court judge and his family. Without Kennedy on the court, the justices are split 4-4 between liberals and conservatives.
Kavanaugh, 53, was at the White House for a second straight day, but again did not meet with Trump.
The hearing represents a potential make-or-break moment for the conservative federal appeals court judge's confirmation chances for the lifetime post on the top USA court, as Trump seeks to continue his goal of moving the federal judiciary to the right.
Christine Blasey Ford alleges that Kavanaugh assaulted her when they were teenagers at a high school party, she says Judge was the only other person in the room.
The comments by Ford's lawyer suggested any public hearing could be explosive.
She alleged Mr Kavanaugh was "stumbling drunk" at the time.