U.S. Senate plans procedural vote on Kavanaugh in bitter confirmation fight


Late on Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took steps to hold a key procedural vote as early as Friday, which could pave the way for a final vote on Kavanaugh's confirmation by the weekend.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said he disagreed with the statement by Mr Grassley that the report found "no hint of misconduct" by Mr Kavanaugh.

But Democrats said the five-day inquiry was "incomplete" because it was limited by the White House.

In Boca Raton, Fla., retired justice John Paul Stevens, a Republican, raised concerns on Thursday about Kavanaugh's temperament, according to the Palm Beach Post.

No Republicans have said they will vote against Kavanaugh, although four have not committed to supporting him.

Most of all, they cited the recent sexual misconduct allegations against the judge, relating to decades-old high school and college parties.

In his senate testimony last week, Kavanaugh denied the accusations.

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh said in an op-ed Thursday that he "might have been too emotional" during last week's Senate hearing but that he was subject to "wrongful and sometimes vicious allegations".

Thursday afternoon, Capitol Police arrested 293 protesters in the atrium of the Hart Senate Office Building and charged them with "crowding, obstructing or incommoding".

President Trump, in a tweet Friday morning, criticized what he termed "the very rude elevator screamers", who he said are "paid professionals only looking to make Senators look bad!"

At a rally of supporters in Minnesota Trump called Kavanaugh "one of the most respected", as his supporters chanted: "We want Kavanaugh".

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Speaking to reporters after reviewing the FBI report, Collins said it "appears to be a very thorough investigation". Kavanaugh vehemently denied the allegation and further sexual misconduct claims against him from two other women.

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North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp, who faces a hard re-election race next month, cited concerns about his "past conduct" and said she felt his heated attacks on Democrats during last week's Judiciary Committee hearing raised questions about his "current temperament, honesty and impartiality". "There's nothing in it that we didn't already know".

KELLY: In the wee hours of this morning, the White House released a statement saying it had received the report from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and that, quote, "with this additional information, the White House is fully confident the Senate will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court".

Of the three Republican senators thought to be on the fence going into this dramatic day, Susan Collins and Jeff Flake voted "aye" while Lisa Murkowski voted "no".

It also means that in the unlikely event one of the "yea" votes on cloture turns into a "nay" on confirmation, the Kavanaugh cause has one vote to spare.

Speaking to reporters after reviewing the FBI report, Collins said it "appears to be a very thorough investigation".

Kavanaugh stood by his performance during last week's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing at which he denied the misconduct allegations, made at the same hearing, of a California university professor.

"The well as poisoned from the outset", said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat. "Those fears have been realised".

After the FBI investigation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh came to a close and the White House and members of the Senate received the documents, Republicans said the files show no extra corroborating information than previously known.

During his testimony, Kavanaugh singled out Democratic senators on the committee and accused them of seeking revenge "on behalf of the Clintons", and acting out of "pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election".

The op-ed comes as some have questioned whether he can remain politically neutral on the court after the Democratic Party launched a vicious smear campaign against him that dominated national headlines for almost three weeks.

"There are dozens of people out there that they could have questioned", Hirono told AFP.