Brett Kavanaugh will be sworn in later on October 6.
The upper house is split 51-49 in favor of the Republicans and the vote was largely along party lines. In the end, there was indeed a two-vote margin, the closest nomination vote since 1881.
The only party dissenters were Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, who had intended to vote No, and Democrat Joe Manchin, who voted Yes.
That should have meant a 51-49 tally, but the absence of Republican Steve Daines, a Yes voter who was at his daughter’s wedding, altered the final figures.
Lisa Murkowski opted instead to simply mark herself as “present”, leaving the final vote 50-48.
In their final summations, the two Senate party leaders reflected how bitter the divide had become.
Minority Democrat leader Chuck Schumer said Brett Kavanaugh did not belong on the bench as he had “obscured his views to the American people”, “repeatedly misled the Senate” and delivered one of the “bitterest and most partisan testimonies ever presented by a nominee”.
Chuck Schumer also said President Trump had “stooped to new depths” in mocking the testimony of Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser, Christine Blasey Ford.
He said that for all those who opposed the nomination, “there is one answer – vote” in the November mid-term elections.
Majority Republican leader Mitch McConnell said Brett Kavanaugh was a “serious scholar, a brilliant student of the law and a meticulous and dedicated public servant”.
Lisa Murkowski had earlier said that although Brett Kavanaugh was a “good man”, he was “not the right person for the court at this time” and his “appearance of impropriety has become unavoidable”.
Joe Manchin is facing a difficult re-election campaign in West Virginia, a traditionally Republican state that President Trump won by a landslide. He said he “found Judge Kavanaugh to be a qualified jurist”.
There were shouts of “shame” from the public gallery as he voted yes.
Two Republican waverers, Susan Collins and Jeff Flake, finally decided to back Brett Kavanaugh.
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.
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.
The FBI report contains summaries of interviews that the bureau has conducted. Nine people were reportedly interviewed, but not Brett Kavanaugh or the woman who first accused him of assault.
The report is in paper format only and no copies will be made. It is being held in a secure room in the basement of the Capitol building, known as a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or “SKIF”.
Senators have been told not to reveal its contents, but some have already begun to describe its findings.
Senator Bob Corker said the FBI report is 46 pages long.
Democrats have raised concerns the investigation has been too narrow in scope, with key witnesses not interviewed.
In a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray on October 4, the lawyers for the first woman accusing Brett Kavanaugh of assault, Professor Christine Blasey Ford, criticized investigators for not speaking with more than a dozen alleged witnesses whose names she provided.
In a statement after reading the FBI report, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Charles Grassley, said: “There’s nothing in it that we didn’t already know”, and that the FBI “found no hint of misconduct”.
Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein called it an “incomplete investigation”, adding that “the most notable part of this report is what’s not in it”.
Swing Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona – like other Republicans – said it contained “no additional corroborating information”.
Moderate Republican Susan Collins of Maine, who also has not announced how she will vote, said it “appears very thorough”.
Christine Blasey Ford testified to the Senate committee that Brett Kavanaugh had assaulted her when they were teenagers in the 1980s.
Judge Kavanaugh angrily denied that he had ever assaulted her or anyone else.
Mark Judge, a high school friend of Brett Kavanaugh who Christine Blasey Ford says was in the room at the time of the assault, has said he will co-operate with any law enforcement agency that will “confidentially investigate” the allegations.
He has already denied Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations.
Two others who were allegedly present in the house during the alleged assault, PJ Smyth and Dr. Ford’s friend Leland Ingham Keyser, are willing to co-operate “fully” with the FBI’s investigation, their lawyers said.
A third woman who has also publicly accused Brett Kavanaugh, Julie Swetnick, alleges he was involved in the drugging and assault of girls at house parties in the 1980s.
Hulie Swetnick says she was the victim of a gang rape in 1982 at a party attended by Brett Kavanaugh.
Her lawyer said on Septemeber 29 that they had yet to hear from the FBI.
Announcing the FBI investigation, President Trump said: “I’ve ordered the FBI to conduct a supplemental investigation to update Judge Kavanaugh’s file.
“As the Senate has requested, this update must be limited in scope and completed in less than one week.”
The inquiry involves the FBI reopening its previously completed background check on Brett Kavanaugh. This may mean going back to old witnesses – or speaking to new ones.
Christine Blasey Ford’s lawyer said her client welcomed the step but questioned the time limit of a week to hold the investigation.
Republicans are pushing to vote on Judge Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court on September 28, after hearing dramatic testimony from him and Prof. Christine Blasey Ford, who is accusing him of assault.
President DonaldTrump has urged the Senate – where Republicans have a majority – to vote.
This is expected next week, although the outcome is far from certain with a number of senators on both sides undecided.
The American Bar Association has called for a delay of the vote to allow the FBI to investigate the claims by Christine Blasey Ford and other women.
The Supreme Court plays a vital role in political life – appointed for life, its nine members have the final say on US law.
This includes highly contentious social issues, such as abortion, and challenges to government policy.
Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment would tilt the balance in favor of conservatives for years to come.
For this reason, Republicans accuse the Democrats of seeking to delay the confirmation until after the mid-term elections in November when they hope to win enough seats to stop it altogether.
The hearing, which lasted for nine hours, brought an outpouring of support for Christine Blasey Ford – a university professor – from the #MeToo movement against harassment and assault.
President Donald Trump’s nominee, at times emotional and angry, denied assaulting Christine Blasey Ford when they were teenagers.
The 51-year-old, close to tears, described the incident in detail saying it had “drastically” affected her life.
Prior to September 27, no-one had heard from Christine Blasey Ford publicly since the allegations arose.
After addresses by the leading Republican and Democrat senators, she delivered her statement, at times close to tears.
“I am here today not because I want to be,” she said.
“I am terrified. I am here because I believe it is my civic duty to tell you what happened to me while Brett Kavanaugh and I were in high school.”
Christine Blasey Ford alleged Brett Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge had locked her in a bedroom during a small gathering at a house in a Washington DC suburb in the summer of 1982, when she was 15 and Brett Kavanaugh was 17.
She said Brett Kavanaugh had tried to remove her clothing, pinned her to a bed and groped her. Both men were “drunkenly laughing”, she said.
Prof. Ford added: “Brett’s assault on me drastically altered my life. For a very long time, I was too afraid and ashamed to tell anyone the details.”
Under questioning by a Democratic senator, Christine Blasey Ford said her most vivid memory was “the laughter between the two and their having fun at my expense… They were laughing with each other – two friends having a really good time with one another”.
In an answer to a question from another Democrat about claims of mistaken identity, she said she was “100%” certain that Brett Kavanaugh had assaulted her.
Many of the 10 Democrats in the 21-person committee praised her for coming forward – and supported her call for an FBI investigation into her allegations.
The 11 Republicans, all men, deferred most of their questions to a lawyer, Phoenix prosecutor Rachel Mitchell.
Brett Kavanaugh responded by taking a combative approach but occasionally became emotional.
“This confirmation process has become a national disgrace,” the 53-year-old federal judge told the committee.
“The constitution gives the Senate an important role in the confirmation process, but you have replaced advice and consent with search and destroy.
“Since my nomination in July there has been a frenzy on the left to come up with something, anything to block my confirmation.”
Brett Kavanaugh insisted he would not be “intimidated” into withdrawing from the process.
He said: “You may defeat me in the final vote but you’ll never get me to quit. Never.”
Brett Kavanaugh said he did not doubt that Christine Blasey Ford had been assaulted, but insisted: “I’ve never s**ually assaulted Dr Ford – or anyone.”
He admitted he had drunk beer while at high school and under-age, but said he had never got so drunk as to forget events.
The federal judge added that his calendars for 1982 – which he had kept – showed he had not attended a party at the location Christine Blasey Ford had described.
His friend, Mark Judge, has sent two letters to the committee saying he has no recollection of the events described by Christine Blasey Ford and adding that he had never seen Brett Kavanaugh behave in the way alleged.
The Democratic senators on the committee have called on President Trump to “immediately withdraw” Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination.
Moments after the hearing ended, however, President Trump stood by his nominee and said he found Brett Kavanaugh’s testimony “powerful, honest and riveting”.
President Trump has repeatedly defended the judge’s character, saying he is “one of the highest quality people” he has ever met.
Thousands of protesters against the nomination took to the streets on September 27 and 59 people were arrested near the Supreme Court in Washington, DC.
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