Kavanaugh key vote due Friday, confirmation battle reaching finale

Saturday, 06 Oct, 2018

Sen. Steve Daines will walk his daughter down the aisle in Montana on Saturday-but if needed, he will rush back to Washington on a fellow lawmaker's plane to vote for Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation.

Thursday marked a day of high drama and public outrage on Capitol Hill, and furore over Kavanaugh's nomination is dominating the runup to next month's midterm elections in which control of Congress by Trump's Republican Party is at stake.

President Donald Trump's drive to deepen conservatives' imprint on the U.S. Supreme Court faces a test on Friday as the Senate holds a procedural vote on Brett Kavanaugh, whose nomination for the country's highest court has set off a political brawl.

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.

Underscoring the hardening partisan lines, one of the two undecided Democratic senators said she would oppose Mr Kavanaugh.

"More baseless innuendo and more false smears from Senate Democrats", committee Republicans said on Twitter. Kavanaugh also testified before the committee - and vehemently denied the allegation. She said that revealed a temperament and lack of impartiality that's unbecoming for the high court.

The White House specifically requested Federal Bureau of Investigation 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.

But crucially, two key Republican senators who are yet to say how they will vote - Jeff Flake of Arizona and Susan Collins of ME - made positive comments about the probe, which was taken by some to be a sign that they were leaning towards a "yes". Flake, a frequent Trump critic, was instrumental in getting the president to order the FBI investigation last Friday. Lisa Murkowski voted against moving the nomination forward.

The Illinois Democrat told CBS' "This Morning" on Friday that Kavanaugh's op-ed, in which he conceded being "very emotional" in his Senate testimony was unpersuasive. Kavanaugh has denied all allegations against him.

Some held signs calling him a liar and "unfit" to serve.

Kavanaugh's former schoolmate Dr Christine Blasey Ford pictured during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last Thursday.

Two of the three Republican lawmakers undecided on the nominee boosted his confirmation chances by signalling they believed the bureau had done a thorough probe. If that succeeds, a final roll call was expected on Saturday.

Cory Gardner, a Republican from Colorado, wants to finish reading the report before he makes a decision, his spokesman told the Denver Post.

Kavanaugh's nomination has become a flashpoint in the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and assault. The closely guarded collection of interviews is celebrated by Republican leaders as concrete proof that Kavanaugh did not harass or abuse women.

Republicans can rely on Vice President Mike Pence to break a tie, but that has never happened for a Supreme Court nominee, according to the Senate Historical Office.

"This process has been ruled by fear and anger and underhanded gamesmanship for too long", McConnell said.

Standing in Kavanaugh's way are a handful of key swing votes.

Ms Feinstein said the White House may have limited the probe.