Senators weigh moving forward on Kavanaugh confirmation vote

Brett Kavanaugh during the Senate confirmation hearings

Brett Kavanaugh during the Senate confirmation hearings

After the latest FBI background investigation into Judge Brett Kavanaugh's behavior as a teenager, Senate Republicans have taken a major step to advance his nomination.

"Nobody is supposed to be guilty until proven innocent in the United States of America", McConnell said on Capitol Hill on Thursday talking about Kavanaugh, while blasting Democrats.

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh wrote in an opinion article Thursday that he "might have been too emotional" and "said a few things I should not have said" during last week's Senate hearing on sexual assault allegations against him. A procedural vote on Kavanaugh's nomination is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. EDT Friday.

Senator John Cornyn, the No. 2 Senate Republican, said on Twitter on Friday that 302 protesters had been arrested on Thursday for unlawfully demonstrating in Senate buildings. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, another red state Democrat, has not yet said how he will vote.

Ford's testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee was broadcast live on television last Thursday and captured the attention of millions watching.

Six days after Trump reluctantly ordered the Federal Bureau of Investigation to scrutinize the accusations- which allegedly occurred in the 1980s and Kavanaugh has denied - leading GOP lawmakers briefed on the agency's confidential document all reached the same conclusion: There was no verification of the women's past claims and nothing new. "He's not the right man for the court at this time", she said.

Most Democrats opposed the nomination from the outset, but their objections sharpened when Christine Blasey Ford, now a college professor in California, and two other women accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct during the 1980s while he was a high school and college student.

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

"I've changed my views for reasons that have no relationship to his intellectual ability", Stevens said, according to the newspaper.

He said he was more emotional than he had ever been. Senators had to take turns reading the report that included interviews from nine people including Marc Judge who Dr. Christine Blasey Ford claimed was in the room when she was sexually assaulted by Kavanaugh.

Friday's vote will give insight as to where lawmakers stand, including key undecided senators who have expressed doubts over Kavanaugh since a series of sexual-misconduct allegations emerged against him.

The reference to McCain was to that of the dramatic vote previous year on repealing the Affordable Care Act, when the Arizona Republican provided the final "no" vote despite earlier voting to get to the measure. The closely guarded collection of interviews is celebrated by Republican leaders as concrete proof that Kavanaugh did not harass or abuse women.

However, Dianne Feinstein, the most senior Democrat on the committee, criticised the scope of the probe, saying: "What I can say is that the most notable part of this report is what's not in it".

A fuming Kavanaugh strode into the same packed hearing room that afternoon and said he, too, was "100 per cent" certain the incident had not occurred.

Senators held a procedural "roll call" poll on whether to advance Kavanaugh's nomination further, with 51 senators voting in favour. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Sen.

That vote was a boost for Kavanaugh, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Donald Trump, who had privately fretted since allegations of sexual assault against the judge were revealed two weeks ago that he might not make it to even this point.

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