WASHINGTON (Rahnuma) U.S. senators, expected to vote Friday morning on the confirmation of President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, are still highly divided along partisan lines over the results of a probe into allegations of sexual misconduct against the judge.
Nevertheless, the odds of confirmation rose after a report by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) found “no hint of misconduct.”
“It’s time to vote,” said Republican Senate Judiciary chair Chuck Grassley on Thursday.
If the procedural vote passes, the Senate could move to a final vote as early as Saturday, one month before the Nov. 6 midterm elections.
ODDS OF CONFIRMATION RISES
Local media said only four senators holding key swing votes were still undecided. They are Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republicans Jeff Flake of Arizona, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.
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.
“No additional corroborating information” was found in the FBI supplemental background investigation, said Flake.
“It appears to be a very thorough investigation, but I’m going back later to personally read the interviews,” Collins said.
The White House and Republican Senate leaders said the FBI report found no evidence of wrongdoing, while Democrats said the White House tied the FBI’s hands, resulting in a probe that is not thorough.
“Candidly, what we reviewed today in a very limited time … looks to be a product of an incomplete investigation that was limited, perhaps by the White House, I don’t know,” said Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“We had many fears that this was a very limited process that would constrain the FBI from getting all the facts,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Thursday morning. “Having received a thorough briefing on the documents, those fears have been realized.”
Republicans hold 51 seats in the Senate and changed Senate rules last year to end filibusters for Supreme Court nominees. In the case of a 50-50 tie, Vice President Mike Pence might break it in favor of Kavanaugh.
On Thursday, about 300 protesters, including sexual assault victims, were arrested after protesting on Capitol Hill against the nomination of Kavanaugh, chanting “Believe survivors.”
In another development, more than 2,400 law professors signed on a letter to the Senate on Thursday, saying Kavanaugh lacks judicial temperament and is disqualified from sitting on the nation’s highest court, according to a Washington Post report.
“At the Senate hearings on Thursday, September 27, 2018, the Honorable Brett Kavanaugh displayed a lack of judicial temperament that would be disqualifying for any court, and certainly for elevation to the highest court of this land,” the letter reads.
Both Kavanaugh and his sexual assault accuser, university professor Christine Ford, testified before the 21-member Senate Judiciary Committee in an 8-hour-long hearing last week.
Ford said she was 100 percent certain that Kavanaugh attacked her during a gathering of high school students in early 1980s, and Kavanaugh said he was also 100 percent certain that he never attacked anyone, calling the allegations “a calculated and orchestrated political hit.”
On Thursday night, Kavanaugh said in an op-ed published by the Wall Street Journal that he might have been “too emotional” in the hearing.
“I was very emotional last Thursday, more so than I have ever been. I might have been too emotional at times,” he wrote in the op-ed headlined “I am an Independent, Impartial Judge.”
The U.S. public is sharply split over Kavanaugh’s confirmation. The results of a Quinnipiac poll released on Monday show 48 percent of Americans are against the confirmation of Kavanaugh’s nomination, while 42 percent are supportive.
Aside from Ford, several other women, including two who had also come forward, have accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting or harassing them during his high school and university years. Kavanaugh has denied the accusations.