Senators weigh whether to move forward on Kavanaugh confirmation vote
Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Senators are expected to vote on whether to move Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination forward at 10:30 a.m. Friday morning, though it’s unclear if Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has the votes to push President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee through. If the cloture vote does pass, the confirmation vote will likely be held on Saturday.
“We don’t know how it’s going to go until the votes get cast,” Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley said Friday morning.
Republicans need a simple majority of 51 to invoke cloture and move forward with the final vote tomorrow.
Where do senators stand?
Senators spent Thursday weaving in and out of a secure room on Capitol Hill, called an SCIF, where the FBI report was available for review. The report included more than 40 pages of interviews, which all 100 senators were able to access in rotating time blocks beginning at 8 a.m. Speaking on the Senate floor, McConnell said there would be “plenty of time” for senators to review the material before Friday’s cloture vote.
If Republicans don’t have the votes to cut off debate on Friday, it cannot move forward to a final vote.
Standing in Kavanaugh’s way are a handful of key swing votes. The group of moderate senators who could ultimately make or break his nomination includes Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., Susan Collins, R-Maine, Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.
Flake and Collins, while saying they are still undecided how to vote, indicated they were satisfied with the FBI’s additional investigation, comments the White House would find encouraging.
Their votes will likely hinge on what is in the FBI’s report. Kavanaugh’s confirmation process has been rocked by multiple sexual misconduct allegations, all of which Kavanaugh has vehemently denied.
What was the FBI directed to investigate?
The FBI was directed to look into “credible” allegations of sexual misconduct made by Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez against Kavanaugh.
The White House specifically requested FBI interviews with four people: Kavanaugh’s high school friends Mark Judge and P.J. Smyth; Leland Keyser, who Ford claimed was at the party where the alleged assault took place; and Ramirez, whose lawyers provided a list of more than 20 additional witnesses to interview.
Ford claims Judge was in the room when she said Kavanaugh assaulted her.
The FBI also interviewed Christopher “Squi” Garrett, another classmate of Kavanaugh’s who appeared on the July 1 calendar entry.
The White House received the FBI report Wednesday night, according to a statement by deputy White House press secretary Raj Shah.
“With Leader McConnell’s cloture filing, senators have been given ample time to review this seventh background investigation,” Shah said. “This is the last addition to the most comprehensive review of a Supreme Court nominee in history.”
The report has not been released to the public. McConnell has insisted that it remain private.
How has Kavanaugh responded?
As lawmakers emerged from the secure room Thursday, some Republicans said they would be outright yes votes for Kavanaugh, while Democrats suggested the White House had tied the FBI’s hands by not allowing more witnesses to be interviewed.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., claimed the White House had “straightjacketed this investigation.”
On Thursday evening, the embattled judge defended himself in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal.
Under the headline “I Am an Independent, Impartial Judge,” Kavanaugh wrote: “I was very emotional last Thursday, more so than I have ever been. I might have been too emotional at times.”
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