UPDATE: Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., both said late Friday they would vote Saturday to confirm Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, making his seat on the high court all but a done deal. Manchin said in a statement he had reservations because of the sexual misconduct accusations against Kavanaugh but based his decision on “what is best for West Virginia.” In a speech to the Senate on Friday afternoon, Collins said she did not think the sexual assault accusations against Kavanaugh rose to a level to “fairly prevent” him from serving on the court.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, has indicated she will vote no but so far hasn’t given a formal public statement, while Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said he will vote yes unless “something big changed.” With Manchin crossing the aisle, the nomination will succeed 51-49 if everyone holds to the votes they have said they would cast. Vice President Mike Pence could break a tie if necessary.
OUR EARLIER REPORT (1:44 p.m.): WASHINGTON—Senate Republicans on Friday morning set up a final confirmation vote on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh for Saturday after he cleared a key procedural hurdle with support from 51 senators. A cloture decision does not guarantee final confirmation, but it ends debate and sets a final vote within 30 hours.
All eyes Friday were on four senators who were elusive about their choices up until the time the vote was taken. In a break with their parties, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, voted no, while Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., cast a yes vote. Previously undecided GOP Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Susan Collins of Maine Collins followed their party’s lead and voted yes. Flake later said he would vote yes on Saturday, while Murkowski said she had not made up her mind but appeared to lean toward voting no. Collins said she would announce her final decision on the confirmation later Friday. Manchin, faced with the possibility of being the sole Democratic senator to confirm Kavanaugh, told reporters, “I’ll probably be undecided until I walk in the door.”
Saturday’s confirmation proceedings could drag into Sunday. Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., plans to fly back to Washington after walking his daughter down the aisle at her wedding Saturday in Montana. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., could keep the vote open for hours until Gaines got back Saturday night or sometime Sunday to ensure Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
Since Kavanaugh testified about the sexual abuse accusations against him at a Sept. 27 hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee—accusations he denies—Democratic senators have voiced a new concern about his temperamental fitness as a Supreme Court justice. At the hearing, Kavanaugh openly displayed anger and came close to tears. He said accusations against him were a “calculated and orchestrated political hit … fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and … revenge on behalf of the Clintons.”
On Thursday, retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens said he withdrew his support for Kavanaugh “for reasons that have really no relationship to his intellectual ability or his record as a federal judge … but I think that his performance during the hearings caused me to change my mind.”
The American Bar Association’s standing committee also announced Friday it had reopened an evaluation of Kavanaugh because of “new information of a material nature regarding temperament.” It also said its original rating of “well qualified” still stands.
Kavanaugh defended his independence in a Wall Street Journal op-ed posted Thursday night: “I was very emotional last Thursday, more so than I have ever been. I might have been too emotional at times. I know my tone was sharp, and I said a few things I should not have said. I hope everyone can understand that I was there as a son, husband, and dad.” He wrote that he would be a nonpartisan, pro-law judge, “independent and dedicated to the Constitution.”
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Harvest is a reporter for WORLD based in Washington, D.C.