Thursday, 18 October, 2018

Senate's first vote on Kavanaugh expected on Friday

An undated Credit Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence via AP
Francis Osborne | 05 October, 2018, 15:30

The Senate is poised to take a key procedural vote at 10:30 a.m. Friday on whether to advance Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court.

Senate Republicans were growing more confident they would win the 10:30 a.m. (1430 GMT) vote after two wavering Republican senators responded positively on Thursday to an Federal Bureau of Investigation report on accusations of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh.

Grassley said the full Senate should vote on Saturday on Kavanaugh's nomination - an appointment that could shift the nine-member bench to the right for decades to come.

He'll vote for Kavanaugh's confirmation as long as there is an FBI investigation into Ford's allegations.

Most Democrats opposed Mr Trump's nomination of Mr Kavanaugh from the outset.

Trump nominated Kavanaugh to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, who had been a swing vote on a panel now equally divided between four conservative and four liberal justices.

Sen. Jeff Flake, the Arizona Republican who is retiring, said he intends to vote to confirm 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.

Kavanaugh at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last week on Capitol Hill.

Speaking to Democrats during Kavanaugh's testimony last Thursday, Graham said "What you want to do is destroy this guy's life, hold this seat open and hope you win in 2020".

"I was subjected to wrongful and sometimes vicious allegations", he wrote.

UB40 Want Nothing to Do With Brett Kavanaugh
Asked whether Mr Trump's comments would affect her vote, Senator Murkowski told reporters, "I am taking everything into account". The letter also says Kavanaugh gave "intemperate, inflammatory" responses and was "discourteous" to senators.

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We have that from Theresa May , I think there are others who would struggle to provide that type of leadership", Gauke said. He added: "My fellow Conservatives , this is not democracy.

The confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh may be coming to a close, but the controversy surrounding Dr. Christine Blasey Ford appears to be ongoing.

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. They're being protected by U.S. Capitol Police. 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.

At a MS election rally late Tuesday, Trump ridiculed Ford's accusation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her. Just one physical copy of the report will be available, and only to senators and 10 committee staffers cleared to view the material.

Another Democratic Senator, Richard Blumenthal, told reporters it was a "whitewash".

None of the three undecided Republicans would say if they had made their minds up one way or another. Kavanaugh strongly denies the allegations and says he has never sexually assaulted anyone.

In his testimony, Kavanaugh complained about "a calculated and orchestrated political hit fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election".

Kavanaugh stressed that "a good judge must be an umpire-a neutral and impartial arbiter who favors no political party, litigant or policy" and who is not "swayed by public pressure". Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, deflected, saying, "This is not a comprehensive FBI investigation on which we can draw conclusions". But he did not apologize for his behavior at the hearing, in which he interrupted senators, turned questions about drinking back on them and seeded his opening remarks with comments about "revenge on behalf of the Clintons" and left-wing groups.

He said the investigation was thorough, and for the witnesses interviewed "it's a cross between an endoscopy and a colonoscopy".

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Attorneys for Deborah Ramirez, who also has accused the judge of sexual misconduct in the 1980s, wrote a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray saying they were "deeply disappointed" that agents had not followed up on their interview with her by talking to the more than 20 witnesses she identified as being able to corroborate her account of his behaviour. Mr Kavanaugh and Prof Ford were not interviewed.

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