WASHINGTON — As the Senate began debate Thursday on the confirmation vote for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, Republicans said the new FBI background check found no corroboration for allegations of sexual assault, while Democrats charged the White House with deliberately limiting the scope of the investigation to minimize negative findings.
With Sen. Heidi Heitkamp D-N.D. announcement Thursday that she will vot against confirming Kavanaugh, confirmation will likely come down to four crucial votes: Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., Susan Collins, R-Maine, Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, andJeff Flake, R-Ariz., who would only vote to send Kavanaugh’s nomination from the Judiciary Committee to the full Senate if the FBI conducted a one-week investigation into allegations by Christine Brasley Ford and other women that Kavanuagh had sexually assaulted them in high school or college. President Donald Trump ordered the investigation last Friday.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell leveled sharp criticism at those he believes are smearing an innocent man.
“When the uncorroborated mud washes away,” McConnell said, “what’s left is the distinguished nominee who stands before us.”
Several Republican senators, including Tom Cotton of Arkansas, echoed McConnell’s stance.
After his review of the report, Cotton replied with the simple phrase “no corroboration.” But Flake said that he is still waiting to make a decision.
Senate Democrats charged the executive branch with deliberately limiting the scope of the investigation to minimize negative findings.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer said that the lack of corroborating evidence is a product of an investigation handcuffed by by the White House. Schumer called on Trump to release White House directives to the FBI to the public to show the full scope of the investigation.
“We believe it constrained the investigation from the get-go,” Shumer said.
A vote to move the nominating process forward is planned for Friday.
Senators filed into the Capitol basement in small groups Thursday to review the new FBI report in a secure room; under an agreement between the Senate and then-President Barack Obama, only one copy of such reports can be given to the Senate.
Trump criticized the investigation early Thursday, tweeting,“This is now the 7th time the FBI has investigated Judge Kavanaugh. If we made it 100, it would still not be good enough for the Obstructionist Democrats.”
#CancelKavanaugh protesters gathered in front of the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse Thursday to protest Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Photo by Brock Hall
#CancelKavanaugh protesters get free pizza outside the Dirksen Senate Office Building. Photo by Kietryn Zychal
#CancelKavanaugh protest attracted many people before the senate vote on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Photo by Brock Hall
Some children attended the #CancelKavanaugh protest to oppose Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Photo by Brock Hall
#CancelKavanaugh attendees show off their signs in front of the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse. Photo by Brock Hall
#CancelKavanaugh protesters gathered Thursday with signs that poked fun at Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Photo by Brock Hall
#CancelKavanaugh protesters gathered in 82-degree heat in front of the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse to oppose President Trump’s second nominee to the Supreme Court. Photo by Brock Hall
A handful of protesters linger in front of Supreme Court after #CancelKavanaugh protest earlier Thursday. Photo by Kietryn Zychal