Kavanaugh Vote Held Up Amid Disarray on Senate Judiciary Panel
A Senate Judiciary Committee vote on Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination was held up by last-minute wrangling Friday by members of the panel, as Republicans and Democrats continued to spar over sexual assault allegations against the nominee.
The vote was scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Washington time, but senators were milling about the committee room with no immediate sign of action.
Women confront Sen. Jeff Flake after he says he'll vote yes to Kavanuagh: “That’s what you’re telling all women in America, that they don’t matter. They should just keep it to themselves because if they have told the truth you’re just going to help that man to power anyway.”
Earlier, Senator John Thune said GOP leaders are still working to line up enough votes for confirmation by the full chamber.
"There’s a little bit more work to do," said Thune, a member of leadership. He said Republican Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska have concerns, and that the Judiciary panel is working to address them. Collins, asked Friday if she had made up her mind, said, "I have not."
On Thursday, Christine Blasey Ford told the Judiciary panel that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in high school and the nominee categorically denied it.
Leaders have been aiming for the Senate to take up the nomination Saturday, with a final vote following next week. Whether Kavanaugh will be confirmed remains uncertain as key members of each party -- including Collins, Murkowski and Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia -- have declined to say where they stand.
Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly -- who’s seeking re-election in Indiana, a state won by President Donald Trump -- said Friday he’ll vote against Kavanaugh. Donnelly said the allegations against the nominee were "disturbing and credible" and should be investigated by the FBI.
Earlier Friday, several Democratic panel members walked out of the committee room, protesting the GOP drive to muscle Kavanaugh to the Senate floor after Thursday’s hearing, which at times devolved into a partisan shouting match.
Top Judiciary Democrat Dianne Feinstein, who stayed in the committee room, said she was "shocked" by Kavanaugh’s behavior at the hearing, in which he called some Democratic members an "embarrassment" and called allegations against him an "orchestrated political hit."
"Unbelievable," said Feinstein of California. "This was someone who was aggressive and belligerent" and didn’t show the evenhanded temperament needed for a member of the nation’s highest court.
Kavanaugh Angrily Denies Assault Allegation After Accuser Speaks
On Thursday the committee heard Ford, a California psychology professor, testify that she’s "one hundred percent" certain Kavanaugh attacked her in 1982 when they were teenagers, describing in detail being held down on a bed at a drunken high school gathering. She described "uproarious laughter" by Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge, who she said witnessed and encouraged the attack.
Kavanaugh angrily, tearfully and "unequivocally" denied any wrongdoing involving Ford and other women who have made claims of sexual misconduct in recent days. He denounced his treatment as a political hit orchestrated by Democrats.
Judiary panel Republicans earlier Friday rejected another request by Democrats to seek public testimony by Judge. Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said Judge sent a letter to the committee Thursday night reiterating his statement that he didn’t recall the incident described by Ford and never saw Kavanaugh act in such a manner. Democrats have also repeatedly sought an FBI investigation of Ford’s claims.
The American Bar Association, which had rated Kavanaugh as "well qualified" to serve on the Supreme Court, called on the Senate to delay a vote on confirmation to allow an investigation by the FBI. Each appointment to the court is "too important to rush to a vote," ABA President Robert Carlson said in a letter to Grassley and Feinstein
Heather Gerken, dean of Yale Law School where Kavanaugh earned his law degree, in a Twitter message called for a delay in confirmation to allow time for additional investigation of the allegations.
Republicans who back Kavanaugh say there was no corroborating evidence for Ford’s allegation, while Democrats say the GOP refused to seek an FBI investigation, call witnesses who might be able to back up her claim, or seek testimony from two other women who accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct.
By Laura Litvan and Erik Wasson, September 28, 2018,