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Collins, Manchin Will Vote Yes On Kavanaugh

  • May 10, 2020
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WASHINGTON, DC — A deeply divided Senate voted 51-49 Friday to move Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination forward in what has become an angry war of words that threatened President Trump’s effort to tilt the court rightward for decades. The narrow majority to confirm Kavanaugh seemed to be a surety when Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, and Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, both said they would vote yes to confirm the judge.

Manchin, Collins and two other Republicans — Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Jeff Flake of Arizona — had been on the fence heading into Friday’s cloture vote. Murkowski voted against advancing the nomination while Flake and Manchin voted yes.

Collins announced her final vote in a speech on the Senate floor Friday afternoon, offering justification for her decision. Shortly after Collins’ speech, Manchin announced his support for Kavanaugh in a statement, giving the Senate the 51-49 majority needed to confirm the nominee. (You can see Manchin’s statement at the bottom of this article). Flake had said he would vote yes on Kavanaugh unless anything changes before the final vote scheduled for Saturday.

In her speech, Collins said she looked at Kavanaugh’s judicial record in reaching a final decision. The senator from Maine also lambasted the partisanship inserted into the confirmation process, at one point saying it looks “more like a caricature of a gutter-level political campaign, than a solemn occasion.”

The vote came after the Senate reviewed a 50-page FBI report on the sexual assault allegations of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who testified last week that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her decades ago when they were teenagers. The FBI said it had not unearthed any evidence to corroborate Ford’s allegations, as well as those made by a second woman, Deborah Ramirez, a classmate of Kavanaugh’s from Yale University who accused him of shoving his penis in her face at a college party.

Citing Ford’s allegations against Kavanaugh, Collins said the presumption of innocence and fairness bear on her thinking. Collins said she found Ford’s testimony to be “sincere, painful and compelling” and she believes she is a survivor of sexual assault. However, Collins added that witnesses named by Ford could not corroborate her account of the alleged assault. She said she believes Ford was assaulted that night but the evidence put forward does not meet the “more likely than not” standard to prove the accusation.

The FBI spoke with Ramirez, as well as several of Kavanugh’s classmates at Georgetown Prep. Investigators also interviewed Leland Keyser, a high school classmate of Ford’s she said attended the party. In all, the bureau interviewed 10 witnesses, but Democrats belittled its findings, saying the White House limited the scope of the investigation.

“The most notable part of this report is what’s not in it,” said Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The vote also occurred against a backdrop of smoldering resentment by partisans on both sides. That fury was reflected openly by thousands of boisterous anti-Kavanaugh demonstrators who bounced around the Capitol complex for days, confronting senators in office buildings and even reportedly near their homes.

On the Senate floor, lawmakers’ comments underscored the lingering bitterness.

“What left wing groups and their Democratic allies have done to Judge Kavanaugh is nothing short of monstrous,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said on the chamber’s floor before the vote. He accused Democrats of using destructive, unwarranted personal attacks on the nominee and even encouraging the protesters, saying, “They have encouraged mob rule.”

Feinstein said Kavanaugh displayed “hostility and belligerence” during his testimony before the Senate panel last week, and the temperament he displayed should “worry us all.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York called the confirmation fight “a sorry epilogue to the brazen theft of Justice Scalia’s seat.” He was referencing Republicans’ refusal to even consider former President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court o replace the late Antonin Scalia.

When he took office, Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch, who was confirmed as an associate justice on the Supreme Court in April 2017.

Kavanaugh, 53, angrily defended himself in hearings last week before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and acknowledged in an op-ed published Thursday in the Wall Street Journal that he became “very emotional” and “said a few things I should not have said,.

But he said he remains the same “hardworking, even-keeled” person he has always been. “Going forward, you can count on me,” he wrote in The Wall Street Journal.

President Trump and his lieutenants on Capitol Hill tried to stoke that same anger on Thursday as they outlined an aggressive timeline for the Kavanaugh confirmation. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said senators wouldn’t be “hoodwinked” by those who have tried to “smear” Kavanaugh’s reputation.

“This is a search and destroy mission,” the second-ranking Senate Republican, Sen. John Cornyn, added.

The GOP’s support of Kavanaugh puts the party at odds with the rising #MeToo movement that has empowered women across America to share their stories of sexual violence. The movement has triggered the downfall of powerful men in media, sports and politics — Republicans and Democrats alike.

“It’s a very scary time for young men,” Trump said this week.

He mocked Kavanaugh’s accuser’s memory of the alleged sexual assault.Many women, backed by liberal men, have been outraged by Trump’s comments.

“The idea that it’s a terrible time to be a young, white guy is completely absurd,” said Florida-based Democratic strategist Steve Schale.He noted, however, there is “some evidence that the Kavanaugh stuff is galvanizing Republicans, particularly Republican men.”

For now, many men apparently agree with Trump’s warning that the surge in women speaking out against sexual violence in the #MeToo era has created “a very scary time” for men in America.

“Democrats have been trying to destroy Judge Brett Kavanaugh since the very first second he was announced,” Trump declared as he rallied voters in Minnesota on Thursday night. He added: “What they’re putting him through and his family is incredible.”

The Associated Press contributed reporting.

Photo: Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)

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