Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made it clear Wednesday that the protestors chasing lawmakers through the hallways and out of Washington D.C. restaurants will not intimidate senators and vowed they ‘will vote this week’ on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
McConnell took to the Senate floor Wednesday morning to rail against the delays in confirming Kavanaugh, including protestors who have confronted senators, and slamming Democrats, who he claims are moving the goalposts on President Donald Trump‘s nominee.
‘I want to make it clear to these people who are chasing my members down the hall here, or harassing them at the airport or going to their homes, we will not be intimidated by these people,’ he said.
More uniformed officers have been visible in the Senate amid mounting protests, and senators have been escorted by uniformed officers.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said lawmakers would not be intimidated by protestors against Brett Kavanaugh
Police presence: Security has been tightened in the Senate because of the presence of protesters with uniformed officers seen guarding Lisa Collins (left) and Mitch McConnell (right)
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer challenged McConnell to ‘man up’ and call a vote
‘There’s no chance in the world they’re gonna scare us out of doing our duty. I don’t care how many members they chase, how many people they harass here in the halls. I want to make one thing perfectly clear, we will not be intimidated by these people,’ McConnell said.
Protestors have filled the hallways of the Senate office buildings as Kavanaugh’s confirmation has struggled toward the finish line amid questions about his drinking habits and allegations of sexual assault.
Republican Senators Jeff Flake, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Ted Cruz, and Lindsey Graham are among those who have been target by victims of sexual assault who are protesting Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
On Friday, a moment when two female protestors trapped Flake in an elevator and berated him after he announced he was voting to confirm Kavanugh went viral and ultimately resulted in Flake calling for a delay in the confirmation vote in order for the FBI to investigate the allegations against Kavanaugh.
One of the women shouted to Flake, through tears: ‘Don’t look away from me! Look at me and tell me that it doesn’t matter what happens to me.’
This is the dramatic moment that two female protesters, and alleged rape victims, trapped Sen. Jeff Flake in an elevator
Demonstrators surrounded Ted Cruz and his wife Heidi in Fiola, an Italian restaurant, shouting ‘We believe survivors’, which prompted them to leave on Monday night
Cruz was also confronted in an elevator in the Senate and chased out of Washington D.C. restaurant last week.
Demonstrators ambushed Cruz and his wife at Fiola, an Italian restaurant near the White House, and chanted: ‘We believe survivors! We believe survivors!’
Protestors also gathered outside the offices of multiple senators to urge them to listen to the stories of sexual assault survivors.
Actress Alyssa Milano was among those leading the protests and was seen crying at some of the stories.
McConnell claimed the mass protests were ‘all part of the organized effort to delay, obstruct and intimidate.’
Kavanaugh’s confirmation has been in limbo since an FBI investigation was ordered on Friday to look into the multiple sexual assault allegations against him.
Christine Blasey Ford has accused Kavanaugh of pinning her to a bed, trying to rip off her clothes and covering her mouth when she screamed while they two of them were teenagers at a party in the 1980s.
Debra Ramirez claims Kavanaugh exposed himself to her during a dorm party at Yale University, thrust his penis in her face and forced her to touch it when she pushed him away.
Julie Swetnick claims Kavanaugh and his Georgetown Prep pal Mark Judge were part of a group of guys who drugged and gang raped women.
Kavanaugh has denied all allegations.
Actress Alyssa Milano led protesters in the Senate on Wednesday against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh
Activists hold signs up outside the office of Maine Senator Susan M. Collins in support of Kavanaugh’s chief accuser Christine Blasey Ford
The FBI had been given a deadline of Friday to end its new background investigation although there is speculation agents could be done as soon as Wednesday.
But on Wednesday Ford’s attorneys revealed she and witnesses she has offered have not been spoken to by the FBI.
Agents have spoken to at least six people involved in the allegations.
One of those is Mark Judge, the high school friend of Kavanaugh who was accused of being in the room when the nominee allegedly tried to rape Ford, while the other is Debbie Ramirez, the second accuser.
They have also spoken to Patrick ‘P.J.’ Smyth and Leland Keyser, both of whom Ford said were present, and to Tim Gaudette, whose home Kavanaugh’s calendars showed he partied at on July 1, 1982, under the term ‘skis’.
And they have spoken to ‘Squi’ or ‘Squee’, real name Chris Garrett, who Ford said she dated and who Kavanaugh’s calendar put at the July 1 party.
The FBI has interviewed Mark Judge and completed its questioning Tuesday, his attorney said
McConnell has been expressing his frustration all week with the delays in getting Kavanaugh on the high court. Republicans originally wanted the conservative Kavanaugh – who was nominated to place retiring swing-vote Justice Anthony Kennedy – on the court by the time it began its new session on October 1.
On Wednesday, after railing against the protestors, McConnell then turned his fury toward Democrats, repeating his accusation that they are trying to move the goalposts on confirming Kavanaugh.
‘Democrats may be trying to move the goal posts every five minutes, but their goal has not moved an inch. They will not be satisfied unless they have brought down Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination,’ McConnell said.
‘If my friends across the aisle had their way the goalposts would move the vote to another time zone,’ he noted.
He also dismissed Democrats’ concerns about Kavanaugh’s judicial temperament after his angry testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last Thursday.
Democrats are saying he’s disqualified because he got ‘a little testy,’ McConnell said, ‘after they dragged him through the mud.’
‘I don’t want to meet he man or woman who wouldn’t be frustrated,’ he added.
‘Democrats have made it clear they will never ever be satisfied. Not ever,’ he raged.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT IN BRETT KAVANAUGH’S CONFIRMATION
The Senate is currently engaged in an unlimited period of debate on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, meaning they have the option to talk about him on the Senate floor should they so choose.
When Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is ready to call for a confirmation vote, he must make a motion to end the debate.
Senate rules require an intervening day to pass between when a GOP leader files a motion to end debate (known as cloture) and when the Senate votes on the motion.
So if McConnell were to file for cloture on Wednesday evening, the cloture vote could happen on Friday.
If he waits until Thursday morning to file for cloture, then that vote would take place Saturday.
In order for cloture to pass, it requires 51 votes.
If the cloture vote passes, that starts the clock on the final 30 hours of debate on Kavanaugh.
Once those 30 hours are up, Senators will vote on whether or not to confirm him.
It takes a simple majority of 51 senators to confirm a nominee.
But Republicans only have a 51 seat majority, meaning the party can only lose one senator if all Democrats vote no on Kavanaugh.
Should it be a 50-50 vote, Vice President Mike Pence would break the tie to confirm Kavanaugh.
McConnell then repeated his vow to hold a vote on Kavanaugh this week.
‘The Senate will vote on this nomination this week,’ he said and repeated his message in case it wasn’t clear: ‘The Senate will vote on this nomination this week.’
McConnell’s double down on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee came amid uncertainty about the timing of the FBI investigation into sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh, which he has denied. It remains unclear when the bureau will finish its probe and when senators will see the results.
He called Kavanaugh one of ‘the most impressive’ nominees in history, citing his ‘sterling academic credentials,’ his work on the bench and his ‘proven commitment’ to fairness.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer then went onto the floor and challenged McConnell to ‘man up,’ call a vote and stop blaming a delay on Democrats that was actually caused by GOP senators.
‘Be a man – man up and say it’s your decision and not ours,’ Schumer said.
Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation is in limbo
As Senate leader, McConnell controls the Senate floor schedule and when votes are called.
He delayed a Kavanaugh vote by a week after three key Republican senators – Jeff Flake, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski – said they wanted an FBI investigation into the sexual assault allegations.
Schumer claimed McConnell was being hypocritical to blame Democrats on a delay when he was he one that held up the confirmation on Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee who never got a vote in the Senate.
‘It is galling, appalling to hear day after day the Majority Leader get on his high horse about delay, when he almost invented the word when it comes to judicial nominations,’ Schumer said.
‘To say Democrats are causing delay are coming from the same man who delayed the nomination of Supreme Court justice Merrick Garland for over 300 days without a shrug of his shoulders? Give me a break,’ he noted.
Democratic Senators Heidi Heitkamp and Joe Manchin are also undecided votes
Schumer pointed out McConnell as ‘the sole power’ to determine when Kavanaugh is voted on and noted he was ‘so tempted to use the L word but he’s my friend.’
He also called on McConnell to hold an all-senators briefing with the FBI agents who investigated Kavanaugh and repeated Democrats’ call to make the findings public.
‘This is not the usual practice but it’s been done in the past,’ Schumer noted of releasing the report.
McConnell can call for a vote at anytime and will soon need to start the complicated procedural process for a Supreme Court nominee if he wants to bring Kavanaugh to a final vote this week.
He must first make a motion to end the debate on Kavanaugh, a process known as cloture.
But Senate rules require an intervening day to pass between when a GOP leader files a motion to end debate and when the Senate votes on the motion.
In order to pass, the motion to end debate requires 51 votes in order to move Kavanaugh’s nomination forward.
If the Senate approves the motion to end debate, that starts the clock on the final 30 hours of debate on Kavanaugh.
Once those 30 hours are up, Senators will vote on whether or not to confirm him.
It takes a simple majority of 51 senators to confirm.
But Republicans only have 51 seats, meaning the party can only lose one senator if all Democrats vote no on Kavanaugh (letting Vice President Mike Pence be the tie breaking vote).
And it’s uncertain McConnell has the 50 senators he needs.
Flake, Collins and Murkowski have been mum on their final vote, saying they want to see the outcome of the FBI investigation.
Only two Democratic senators – Heidi Heitkamp and Joe Manchin – are undecided. All other Democrats have said they will vote no.