Brett Kvanaugh Scandal: Over 300 Protesters Arrested on Capitol Hill
Over 300 protesters against President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh have been arrested in Washington, DC.
Comedian Amy Schumer and model Emily Ratajkowski were among 302 people held for demonstrating against Judge Kavanaugh.
On October 4, Republicans declared an FBI report had exonerated Brett Kavanaugh of assault allegations.
However, Democrats said the five-day inquiry was “incomplete” because it was limited by the White House.
The Senate will hold a procedural vote on Brett Kavanaugh on October 5.
The likelihood of Judge Kavanaugh winning a full Senate vote appeared to increase on October 4 after two Republicans whose backing will be essential gave a positive account of the FBI inquiry.
However, the confirmation is not a certainty, with several senators undecided and one at risk of missing a vote because he is attending his daughter’s wedding.
If confirmed to the lifetime position on America’s highest court, Brett Kavanaugh, 53, is expected to help conservatives dominate the nine-member panel, which has the final say on issues such as abortion, gun control and voting rules.
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As the vote neared, Brett Kavanaugh defended his neutrality in a Wall Street Journal editorial, saying he is an “independent, impartial judge”
Addressing his angry testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he branded the allegations against him an “orchestrated political hit”, Brett Kavanaugh wrote: “I know that my tone was sharp, and I said a few things I should not have said.”
Thousands of mainly female demonstrators marched through Washington DC on October 4, starting at the appeals court where Judge Kavanaugh currently presides.
They converged on Capitol Hill and held a rally outside the Supreme Court, chanting: “Kavanaugh has got to go!”
Police rounded the protesters up in a Senate office building after they sat down and refused to budge.
There was another protest in front of Trump Tower in NYC.
President Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans declared the FBI report had cleared their nominee, as they sounded increasingly confident Judge Kavanaugh would win confirmation.
Senators said the FBI had spoken to five witnesses connected to accusations by Christine Blasey Ford, who alleges a drunken Brett Kavanaugh assaulted her in 1982.
Federal agents are also said to have spoken to four other witnesses involving a separate accusation by Deborah Ramirez, who claims Brett Kavanaugh exposed himself to her when they were both were at Yale University. The judge denies both allegations.
Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley said in a statement: “This investigation found no hint of misconduct.”
Senate Republicans plan a procedural “cloture” vote at 10:30 on October 5, which is required to move to a final vote, scheduled on October 6 at around 17:30.
However, Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein said the FBI report was “the product of an incomplete investigation”, saying key corroborating witnesses had been snubbed. Another Democratic Senator, Richard Blumenthal, told reporters it was a “whitewash”.
White House spokesman Raj Shah said: “What critics want is a never-ending fishing expedition into high school drinking.”
Republican Senator John Cornyn raised eyebrows by telling his party this was “our Atticus Finch moment”, a reference to the lawyer in classic novel To Kill A Mockingbird who refutes a false rape allegation.
Given that Republicans have a razor-thin 51-49 margin of control in the Senate, the party can potentially only afford one defection if it wants to confirm Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, assuming Democrats vote the same way.
Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination has been at the mercy of three wavering senators, but two of those – Jeff Flake and Susan Collins – appeared to respond positively to the FBI report.
Another wavering Republican senator, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, reportedly met assault survivors in her office on October 4.
Complicating matters, the office of Republican Steve Daines said he was planning to attend his daughter’s wedding in Montana on October 6 – meaning he might not be around to vote, or that the vote may be held open until he can return to take part.
Another Republican, Cory Gardner, who previously said he would back Judge Brett Kavanaugh, is yet to decide how he will vote, the Denver Post reported.
A previously undecided Democratic Senator, Heidi Heitkamp, said she would vote against Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination, citing “concerns about his past conduct”.
Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, the only Democrat who remains undecided, said he would finish reading the FBI report on October 5.