Published: Fri, October 05, 2018
Health Care | By Terrence Lopez

U.S. Senate plans procedural vote on Kavanaugh in bitter confirmation fight

U.S. Senate plans procedural vote on Kavanaugh in bitter confirmation fight

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has set Friday for the vote on whether the Senate agrees to hold a final confirmation vote as soon as Saturday.

A round of Senate voting is expected Friday, with the final vote likely Saturday.

However, Flake and Collins have sent positive signals for Kavanaugh's confirmation earlier on Thursday, hours after the FBI submitted a report to the Capitol on its investigation into the sexual misconduct accusations.

Democrats contend that the Kavanaugh nomination and sexual misconduct allegations have motivated women and independents in contentious House races, many of which are in suburban and swing districts where Trump already was less popular.

Earlier Wednesday three Republican senators key to Kavanaugh's approval blasted Trump for mocking Ford at a political rally. "Nobody is supposed to be guilty until proven innocent in this country", he said, blasting Democrats and outside groups for the "literal mudslide of wild, uncorroborated accusations" against Kavanaugh.

The 53-year-old judge made what were in effect closing arguments by acknowledging that he became "very emotional" when forcefully denying the allegations at a judiciary committee hearing last week.

Republicans defended him. "This investigation found no hint of misconduct", Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley said.

Kavanaugh said he was more emotional during the hearing than he has ever been before and that he "might have been too emotional at times" during his testimony due to "vile and violent threats" that his wife and daughters have faced in recent weeks.

"This is now the 7th. time the FBI has investigated Judge Kavanaugh", Trump wrote.

Given that Republicans have a razor-thin 51-49 margin of control in the Senate, the party can potentially only afford one defection if it wants the confirm Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

All eyes are on the key Republicans who could make or break the confirmation - Jeff Flake of Arizona, Susan Collins of ME and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

The White House believes the FBI report addressed the Senate's questions about Kavanaugh, Shah told CNN, adding that the FBI reached out to 10 people in its investigation and "comprehensively interviewed" nine of them.

"In addition to the evidence I requested in my October 2 letter, in light of recently uncovered information, please turn over records and descriptions of direct or indirect communications between Dr. Ford or her representatives and any of of the following: (1) U.S. Senators or their staffs, particularly the offices of Senators Feinstein and Hirono..." Democrats must gain two Senate seats and 23 House seats to claim majorities in each chamber, enabling them to block Trump's agenda and investigate his administration.

Notably absent was Kavanaugh's other named accuser, Julie Swetnick, or anyone connected to her claim of seeing him grope women while drunk at parties.

Six of the witnesses involved Ms Ford's claims, including a lawyer for one of them, and four were related to Deborah Ramirez, who has claimed that Mr Kavanaugh exposed himself to her when both were Yale freshmen, which Mr Kavanaugh denies. Another undecided Republican, Senator Lisa Murkowski, did not offer her view on the Federal Bureau of Investigation report.

West Virginia's Joe Manchin, the other undeclared Democrat, spent time looking at the report and said he would resume reading it on Friday. "He poisoned any sense that he could serve as an impartial judge", the newspaper's editorial board said of his Senate testimony.

Kavanaugh is accused of sexually assaulting a woman decades ago when the two were in high school. She's running for re-election in a state president Trump won in 2016 by more than 35 points.

It was not clear why the 10th was not interviewed.

On Kavanaugh, Heitkamp told WDAY, a TV station in Fargo, "the process has been bad, but at the end of the day you have to make a decision and I've made that decision".

Ford and Kavanaugh were not interviewed.

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