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Brett Kavanaugh: Jeff Flake to vote 'yes' for Trump's SCOTUS nominee

Brett Kavanaugh: Jeff Flake to vote 'yes' for Trump's SCOTUS nominee
Posted at 9:46 AM, Sep 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-28 09:49:31-04

BREAKING: Key swing voter Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) will reportedly vote "yes" for Kavanaugh. More on this as it develops.

ORIGINAL STORY: The Senate Judiciary Committee will once again be the scene of a national drama Friday as its members prepare to vote on President Donald Trump's embattled Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Friday's scheduled vote is an effort by Republicans to bring a swift end to a confirmation process roiled by sexual assault allegations, even as Democrats demand more answers.

During an intense, day-long hearing Thursday, California professor Christine Blasey Ford testified that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her while they were both teenagers in the early 1980s. Kavanaugh later offered a vociferous and emotional defense, alternately shouting and tearing up on national television.

A day after the drama, it's not clear whether committee Republicans have the votes to move Kavanaugh's nomination to the full Senate, with Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona appearing to be the swing vote on a committee with 11 GOP members and 10 Democrats. The vote will be the first one in a series to determine whether conservatives lock in a favorable court for a generation with a 5-4 majority.

When Kavanaugh's vote goes before the full chamber, two moderate Republican senators -- Alaska's Lisa Murkowski and Maine's Susan Collins -- are other key votes who are not on the committee but have not said how they will vote. Republicans control the full Senate 51-49.

Murkowski, Collins, Flake and West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin huddled in a Capitol Hill office following the hearing Thursday. When they emerged, they would only tell reporters they were undecided and wanted to think about their impending decision.

On Thursday, Ford told the committee she is "100%" certain it was Kavanaugh who attacked her at a party when the two were teenagers in 1982.

As the nation watched, she said she "believed he was going to rape me." She told senators it has "haunted me episodically as an adult."

Then, Kavanaugh denied that allegation and other accusations of sexual misconduct he has faced in recent days. He blamed Democrats for what he said was a "calculated and orchestrated political hit" designed to keep him off the Supreme Court. He also refused to support a Democratic push for an FBI investigation of the allegations.

"I've never done this," Kavanaugh said of Ford's assault charge. "It's not who I am. I am innocent."

Late Thursday night, the American Bar Association took the extraordinary step of recommending the Senate Judiciary Committee pause on Kavanaugh's nomination until a FBI probe into the allegations is completed. The association had previously given Kavanaugh a unanimous "well-qualified" rating, its highest rating.

"The basic principles that underscore the Senate's constitutional duty of advice and consent on federal judicial nominees require nothing less than a careful examination of the accusations and facts by the FBI," said Robert Carlson, president of the organization, in a Thursday night letter addressed to Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley and ranking Democrat Dianne Feinstein.

"Each appointment to our nation's Highest Court (as with all others) is simply too important to rush to a vote," Carlson wrote. "Deciding to proceed without conducting additional investigation would not only have a lasting impact on the Senate's reputation, but it will also negatively affect the great trust necessary for the American people to have in the Supreme Court."

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