Kavanaugh a step closer to lifetime Supreme Court post after Senate vote

Patrick Leahy

Senate's first vote on Kavanaugh expected on Friday

Susan Collins on Friday was dubbed a "rape apologist" by a women's activist group amid her decision to support the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Murkowski, the only Republican to vote against advancing Kavanaugh's nomination during Friday's cloture vote, made clear that while her final vote will be recorded as "present" she remains opposed to confirming the nominee.

Flake said he would vote against Kavanaugh if the investigation found the allegations were true or that the nominee lied during his confirmation hearing.

A Collins spokeswoman said Friday that while Collins would vote yes to proceed, the Maine Republican was still undecided on the final vote. As she began to speak, protesters stood up in the gallery, yelling, "Vote no!"

Collins added she will announce her ultimate decision on Kavanaugh's confirmation at 3 p.m. ET Friday.

Melina Mara-Pool/Getty Images Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, with lawyer Debra S. Katz, left, answers questions at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on September 27, 2018.

Murkowski chose the opposite path. "I believe Brett Kavanaugh's a good man. It just may be that in my view he's not the right man for the court at this time", Murkowski told reporters on Capitol Hill.

The clock is ticking on the Senate's final vote to decide whether or not Judge Kavanaugh will have a seat on the nation's highest court. But Alaska GOP Sen. The tweet was a reference to an infamous "Saturday Night Live" skit in which Tina Fey, portraying Palin, said she could see Russian Federation from her house.

Collins is up for reelection in 2020, and while no Democrat has officially challenged the longtime senator yet, whoever does will have lots of money to play with.

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"We will be ill-served in the long run if we abandon the presumption of innocence and fairness, tempting though it may be", Collins said in remarks that stretched for more than 40 minutes but addressed the sexual-abuse allegations only near the end. They were surrounded by colleagues from both parties after the vote.

At that point, Murkowski came out against Kavanaugh while Flake said he would back him barring a last-minute surprise. "More like one or two degrees of separation".

Collins wasn't the only senator to announce a plan to vote yes in the full vote tomorrow. Joe Manchin of West Virginia told reporters he still had not decided.

Kavanaugh's once near-certain confirmation to the lifelong appointment on the constitutional court is on a knife-edge after bitter debate over sexual assault allegations dating to his school and university days. Steve Daines to stay at his daughter's wedding in his home state instead of flying to Washington to cast his supporting vote. Senators often partner like that to allow an absence without affecting the outcome. Another undecided Republican, Senator Lisa Murkowski, did not offer her view on the Federal Bureau of Investigation report. She was re-elected in 2016.

The uncertainty lingered one day after the FBI completed an investigation into the allegations against Kavanaugh, the results of which fell firmly along party lines. Two other women also emerged and accused him of other incidents of sexual misconduct.

Collins took pains to say she believes Ford suffered a sexual assault that "has upended her life", but said she was not convinced Kavanaugh was the culprit.

"There was absolutely no corroboration of (Ramirez's or Ford's) allegations", Kennedy said.

"I've been here 22 months and this is the first time I've really seen the dark side of this place".

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