Senator Susan Collins said Friday that she will support Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh when lawmakers in the upper chamber of Congress decide his fate this weekend.
The Maine Republican decided not to cross the aisle and abandon President Trump’s nominee, giving the GOP an historic victory and rendering the other remaining holdouts’ decisions largely moot.
‘I will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh,’ she said, adding: ‘My fervent hope is that Brett Kavanaugh will work to lessen the divisions in the Supreme Court.’
‘The president has broad discretion to consider a nominee’s philosophy,’ she said on the Senate floor, blasting Democrats for ‘over-the-top rhetoric and distortions’ of Kavanaugh’s professional record.
Collins’ make-or-break decision signals the end to a bitter chapter that saw rhetorical hand-to-hand combat from both sides of the Senate. It will also remind politicians and voters that electing Trump in 2016 will have far-reaching consequences.
The senator on the hot seat took a half-hour to mention the uncorroborated sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh, which date back more than three decades.
She said they ‘illustrate why the presumption of innocence is so important. … It is when passions are most enflamed that fairness is most in jeopardy.’
She said she believes Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford gave ‘sincere, painfull and compelling’ testimony, and believes ‘she is a survivor of a sexual assault, and that this trauma has upended her life.’
Yet the four witnesses she named, Collins continued, ‘could not corroborate any of the events of the evening gathering where she said the assault occurred.’
Kavanaugh himself, she noted, ‘denied the allegations under penalty of perjury.’
Collins argued that the fact of the case ‘lead me to conclude that the allegations failed to meet the “more likely than not” standard. I do not think these charges can fairly prevent Judge Kavanaugh from serving on the [Supreme] Court.’
But she took pains to paint the Kavanaugh case as an outlier in a social movement where women should be believed when they step forward to accuse men of sexual misconduct.
‘The “MeToo” movement is real. It matters, it is needed and it is long overdue,’ she said.
Collins also blasted an anonymous leaker who initially put Ford’s allegations in the public domain, saying the action was ‘unconscionable.’
WOMAN OF THE HOUR: Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins stuck with her party on Friday, announcing on the Senate floor that she would back Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh and giving the Trump White House a major sigh of relief
Supreme Court nominee Brett Sanders, whose confirmation has been complicated by uncorroborated sexual misconduct allegations, will find out Saturday if he has enough support to pass one of the nation’s toughest job interviews, but he cleared his first Senate hurdle on Friday morning
The tally was 51-49, the same as the Republicans’ overall Senate margin
Protesters were arrested by U.S. Capitol police for blocking the street in front of the Supreme Court while demonstrating against Kavanaugh on Friday
Kavanaugh had cleared his first procedural hurdle hours earlier, winning the votes of Collins and another swing Republican – plus politically endangered West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin, who faces a tough November re-election fight in a red state.
That left Republicans with a 51-49 advantage, but no guarantee it would hold.
Senators will still have 30 hours of debate in advance of a final showdown Saturday, possibly as early as dinnertime.
Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, a fence-sitter who a week ago demanded a reopened FBI probe into uncorroborated sexual assault allegations against President Trump’s nominee, said he would vote yes ‘unless something big changed. I don’t see what would.’
But Collins appeared to control Kavanaugh’s fate. In just one sign of her influence, she lunch ate in the Senate dining room with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans Friday, before delivering a speech that had Washington’s blood pressure peaking.
A woman stood up in a visitor’s gallery When Collins rose to speak, urging: ‘Senator Collins, please vote no!’
‘I am a voter form Maine. You have a responsibility–’ the woman called out as Capitol Police moved to eject her from the chamber. She was soon joined by about 10 other protesters.
‘Show up for Maine women! Vote No!’ they shouted before police hauled them out. The Senate’s presiding officer then reminded visitors not to disrupt the proceedings.
Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski voted against Kavanaugh on Friday despite calling him ‘a good man.’ Although she could swing back toward the GOP on Saturday, she told reporters: ‘It just may be that in my view, he’s not the right man for the court at this time.’
Protesters, including some sexual assault survivors, continued to attract media attention Friday in Senate office buildings while Collins was delivering her high-stakes address
Anti-Kavanaugh forces gathered Friday outside the office of Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski on Friday
President Trump congratulated the Senate for signaling its support of his Supreme Court nominee, but the final outcome is still on a razor’s edge
West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, the lone Democrat to support Kavanaugh on Friday, could still change his mind; he faces a tough re-election fight in a deep-red state, but leads Republican challenger Patrick Morrissey by 8 points in recent polls
Manchin too could abandon his pro-Kavanaugh position, and progressive activists and his party leaders are already pressuring him to do just that. He has shown no sign of listening.
‘We feel good about where we are,’ White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters outside the White House.
Asked about the meaning of Manchin’s vote, Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Inhofe said earlier that he ‘can’t imagine’ the West Virginian would vote to advance the nomination but abandon Kavanaugh later. ‘He’s voting his people, is what he’s doing,’ Inhofe told DailyMail at the U.S. Capitol.
President Donald Trump (pictured Thursday night in Minnesota) nominated Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court after Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement in June
California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein told reporters that ‘there are two ways of looking at it. One, he needs more time. Another is he’s not going to vote no, he’s going to vote yes.’
Manchin wouldn’t say what his Friday vote signified, telling reporters he would soon issue a statement. He faces a tough re-election fight in a deep-red state, but leads Republican challenger Patrick Morrissey by 8 percentage points in recent polls
President Donald Trump tweeted his approval, stopping short of gloating in advance of a final confirmation.
‘Very proud of the U.S. Senate for voting “YES” to advance the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh!’ he wrote.
Friday’s vote passed by a simple majority, something that was unthinkable just a few years ago.
Until then-Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, changed the rules in 2013, a president’s judicial nominees needed 60 votes to break an opposition ‘filibuster’ and move to the stage Kavanaugh reached Friday.
Reid took his precedent-setting action, known then as ‘the nuclear option,’ to help then-president Barack Obama secure confirmation of lower-court nominees. Republicans expanded it stepwise in 2017, applying it to include Supreme Court justice Neil Gorsuch.
Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez said after Friday’s vote that ‘[t]his fight is not over.’
‘Americans across the country have been calling on their senators to vote ‘no’ on Brett Kavanaugh. Now it’s time to ramp up the pressure and make our voices heard. And no matter what happens in the Senate tomorrow, it’s up to all of us to vote in November.’
When the morning began, Judiciary Committee Chairman Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley said in a Fox News Channel interview that he had no idea how it would end.
‘As of now I don’t really know, and I don’t know whether anybody else does,’ he said.
Collins kept everyone in the Senate chamber guessing until the end of her hotly anticipated speech, oscillating between praising Kavanaugh and seeming to doubt him
Ninety-six of the 100 senators had declared how they would vote by Friday morning, leaving all the power in the hands of the ‘final four’; just Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski voted ‘no’ on Friday morning
Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski voted ‘no’ on Friday’s Kavanaugh motion, defying her party’s leadership and giving Democrats hope that they could still reject Trump’s nominee
Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake put a halt to the confirmation process a week ago by demanding a reopened FBI background check to probe sexual assault claims against Kavanaugh, but by Friday he was satisfied and said he will vote ‘yes’
‘We feel good about where we are,’ President Trump’s Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters outside the White House
The uncertainty after 32-plus hours of hearings and nationwide heartache over unverifiable sexual assault charges underscored a sharp national divide in the Trump Age.
Even the delivery of a supplemental FBI background check didn’t quell the chants and songs of protesters descending on Senate office buildings and being arrested by the hundreds.
McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, has long planned to close the book on Kavanaugh before the Columbus Day holiday.
An uncharacteristically angry Grassley said on the Senate floor that ‘the fix was in from the very beginning’ and that Democrats decided to vigorously oppose Kavanaugh in historically reckless fashion.
‘What left-wing groups and their Democratic allies have done to Judge Brett Kavanaugh is nothing short of monstrous,’ he said, referring to the full-court-press on behalf of Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford
Ranking committee Democrat Dianne Feinstein said the FBI’s probe was incomplete and limited, and ignored dozens of ‘witnesses’ offered Ford and fellow accuser Deborah Ramirez.
FBI sources have said the Bureau chose to interview only those people with firsthand knowledge of the 1980s parties both women have described.
Four senators out of 100 still had not announced their voting posture as the dust settled Thursday night, including three Republicans ond a lone Democratic holdout.
GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Jeff Flake of Arizona stayed with their party. Republican Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and West Virginia Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin both defected.
Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley told Fox News on Friday morning just hours before a 10:30 a.m. vote that he didn’t know how it would turn out
Thursday was a day of organized protests in hundreds of places across the United States, and the outrage continued Friday
Judiciary Committee ranking Democrat Dianne Feinstein complained Friday on the Senate floor that the FBI’s renewed background check into Kavanaugh ignored witnesses who turned out to have second-hand information
Montana Sen. Steve Daines will not be in Washington on Saturday because of the wedding of his daughter (right), but he will come back quickly if his vote is needed
Outside a secure U.S. Capitol room where senators are permitted to view the FBI’s findings, Manchin told reporters Friday morning that he would not make up his mind on Kavanaugh until he walked onto the Senate floor.
The Senate vote on Friday was what is known as a motion to invoke ‘cloture,’ a procedural step required by the Senate’s arcane rules.
The final vote to confirm Kavanaugh will likely come late Saturday. Senate rules require giving Democrats the option of up to 30 hours of debate before that can happen.
Grassley said he didn’t blame his undecided Republican colleagues for holding their cards closely on Friday morning.
‘I think that they want legitimately – and I found myself in the same position, you want to make sure before you make a final decision,’ he said. ‘You want your constituents to know that you’re very thoughtful about it.’
“I’ve been in that same position, so I’m not going to hold it against them for not announcing ahead of time,’ Grassley added.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, has vowed that the full Senate will vote to confirm Kavanaugh by the end of the week, and a final roll call could come late Saturday
Flake and Collins signaled Thursday that the FBI’s report made them comfortable supporting Kavanaugh, but stopped short of saying how they would vote.
Republicans on Capitol Hill expect Murkowski to vote no, a Senate source told DailyMail.com.
But she appeared noncommital to reporters, presenting a picture of indecision.
‘This has truly been the most difficult evaluation, decision, that I’ve ever had to make,’ Murkowski told reporters. ‘I believe he’s a good man. It just may be that in my view, he’s not the right man for the court at this time.’
In an 11th-hour wrinkle, Montana Republican Sen. Steve Daines reminded GOP leadership that his daughter’s wedding will keep him two time zones away on Saturday.
If Manchin, the lone undecided Democrat, decides to side with Republicans rather than invite the wrath of President Donald Trump in a state he carried in a 42 percentage-point landslide, Republicans will be able to have their way without Daines.
Otherwise, the vote could be left open until he returns Sunday to cast the deciding vote.
‘This is all going to work out,’ Daines told reporters Friday morning at the Capitol.
‘We’re going to have a new Supreme Court justice this weekend and I’m going to get to walk my daughter down the aisle,’ he said.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor that Democrats were intent on defending allegations for which there was ‘no corroborating evidence.’
‘Uncorroborated mud and partisan noise … will not have the final say around here,’ he said. ‘Facts matter. Fairness matters.’
Kavanaugh, 53, made his own closing argument Thursday in a
Christine Blasey Ford accused Kavanaugh of pinning her to a bed and forcibly groping her during a high school party 36 years ago, but the people she cited to corroborate her story have said they don’t remember anything like what she described
New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez said the FBI’s reopened background check on Kavanaugh was ‘a bulls**t investigation’
‘Let me tell it to my friend, Bob,’ South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham shot back on Fox News: ‘What y’all have done is bulls**t’
The U. S. Supreme Court building stood quietly before dawn in Washington on Friday
‘I said a few things I should not have said,’ he wrote, but insisted he would be a ‘hardworking, even-keeled’ jurist: ‘Going forward, you can count on me.’
It was the first time the paper had rendered such a verdict since a Democrat-controlled Senate derailed President Ronald Reagan’s nominee Robert Bork over decades-old writings on abortion.
Most of the loud objections Thursday from Washington liberals and their allies surrounded claims that the FBI probe was too limited, focusing only on the roughly one dozen people who had firsthand knowledge of whether a 17-year-old Kavanaugh had assaulted a 15-year-old girl at a 1982 party.
Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey told a reporter outside his office: ‘If that’s an investigation, it’s a bulls**t investigation.’
Hours later on Fox News, South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham fired back.
‘Let me tell it to my friend, Bob: What y’all have done is bulls**t,’ Graham said. ‘
‘If they ever write a book about overplaying your hands in politics, this is it. It’s in the first chapter.’