Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh insists he is ‘impartial and independent’

Brett Kavanaugh has made an impassioned last minute plea to be selected for the Supreme Court by penning an op-ed expressing his regret at his ‘sharp tone’ at last week’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

In Friday’s Wall Street Journal, the SCOTUS pick makes his personal case to swing Senators, who are expected to vote on the career changing appointment sometime this weekend.

Reminding them he is a committed family man, he insists he will not be a partisan member of the bench but an ‘even-keeled and independent’ justice.

‘I was very emotional last Thursday, more so than I have ever been,’ Kavanaugh writes. ‘I might have been too emotional at times.

‘I know that my tone was sharp, and I said a few things I should not have said.

‘I hope everyone can understand that I was there as a son, husband and dad.

‘I testified with five people foremost in my mind: my mom, my dad, my wife, and most of all my daughters.’

Kavanaugh has faced criticism for his comments before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week during which he angrily denied allegations of sexual misconduct.

The judge, who once worked on the staff of Independent Counsel Ken Starr during his investigation of President Bill Clinton, said the sexual misconduct allegations that surfaced in recent weeks were ‘revenge on behalf of the Clintons.’ 

Brett Kavanaugh (seen above last week in Washington, D.C.) insists that he is an impartial judge despite his angry statements last Thursday accusing Democrats of smearing him to try to derail his confirmation to the Supreme Court

Brett Kavanaugh (seen above last week in Washington, D.C.) insists that he is an impartial judge despite his angry statements last Thursday accusing Democrats of smearing him to try to derail his confirmation to the Supreme Court

Brett Kavanaugh (seen above last week in Washington, D.C.) insists that he is an impartial judge despite his angry statements last Thursday accusing Democrats of smearing him to try to derail his confirmation to the Supreme Court

Kavanaugh is facing sexual misconduct allegations, including from Christine Blasey Ford, who said he groped her at a party when they were teens and tried to remove her clothes. 

In his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Kavanaugh forcefully denied ever sexually assaulting Ford or anyone else. 

In an emotional statement, he put the blame for the accusations against him partly on the Clintons.

‘This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit,’Kavanaugh testified. 

The 53-year-old said it was being fueled by ‘pent-up anger’ over President Donald Trump’s 2016 election victory and outside groups stoking fear about his judicial record.

Kavanaugh’s comments last Thursday prompted many, among them retired Associate Justice John Paul Stevens, to conclude that he lacks the temperament to sit on the Supreme Court. 

But in the Wall Street Journal op-ed, Kavanaugh tried to strike a more diplomatic tone.

‘My hearing testimony was forceful and passionate,’ Kavanaugh wrote on Thursday.

‘That is because I forcefully and passionately denied the allegation against me. At times, my testimony – both in my opening statement and in response to questions – reflected my overwhelming frustration at being wrongly accused, without corroboration, of horrible conduct completely contrary to my record and character.

‘My statement and answers also reflected my deep distress at the unfairness of how this allegation has been handled.’

Kavanaugh insists that if he is confirmed to the bench, he will shed his partisan image.

‘Going forward, you can count on me to be the same kind of judge and person I have been for my entire 28-year legal career: hardworking, even-keeled, open-minded, independent and dedicated to the Constitution and the public good,’ he writes. 

‘As a judge, I have always treated colleagues and litigants with the utmost respect. I have been known for my courtesy on and off the bench. I have not changed.’ 

It is considered extremely rare for a Supreme Court nominee to write op-ed pieces in the newspaper and to conduct interviews with the press, as Kavanaugh did with the Fox News channel last month, critics say.

Kavanaugh’s op-ed only proves what opponents of his confirmation have been saying – that he is too partisan to serve as a justice.

Anne Milgram, a former federal prosecutor, told CNN that she believes Kavanaugh’s conduct is disqualifying.

‘This is the United States Supreme Court, and you do not get to sit on that court, in my view, by going up and yelling at United States Senators,’ she told CNN. 

‘This is hurting the institution of the Supreme Court. 

‘This feels also very political to me, justices don’t write op-eds. 

‘I’m troubled by so many parts of this.’ 

The federal circuit court judge’s chances of being confirmed to the Supreme Court appear to be up in the air.

Republicans moved forward with plans for a key procedural vote on Friday and a final vote on Saturday on confirming the conservative federal appeals judge for a lifetime job on the top U.S. court.

The timing of the vote could be complicated by Republican Senator Steve Daines, whose office said on Thursday he planned to attend his daughter’s wedding in Montana on Saturday, making him unavailable to cast his vote.

Republicans control the Senate by a 51-49 margin. 

With Daines out of the picture, the party would need every other Republican to vote for Kavanaugh for him to be confirmed in a Saturday vote in the event all Democrats oppose him.

North Dakota Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp said Thursday that she will cast a ‘no’ vote on Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination; she first announced her decision on WDAY-TV in Fargo

No Republicans have said they will vote against Kavanaugh, although three have not committed to supporting him.

Comments by two of them – Jeff Flake and Susan Collins – indicated the FBI report, which was the latest twist in the pitched political battle over Kavanaugh, may have allayed their concerns about him. 

Flake, a frequent Trump critic, was instrumental in getting the president to order the FBI investigation last Friday.

A third key Republican swing vote, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, reportedly met with sexual assault survivors from her home state on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Journal reported on Thursday that Republicans are growing increasingly confident that Kavanaugh will be confirmed, particularly after the FBI’s supplementary probe failed to produce new information pertaining to Kavanaugh’s past. 

Trump, himself accused by numerous women during the 2016 presidential race of sexual misconduct, wrote on Twitter that the FBI report showed that the allegations against Kavanaugh were ‘totally uncorroborated.’ 

North Dakota Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp said Thursday that she will cast a ‘no’ vote when the full Senate convenes to decide on Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination.

Heitkamp, a Democrat from a traditionally conservative and Republican-leaning state, was thought to be leaning toward supporting Kavanaugh. 

‘The process has been bad,’ Heitkamp told her home-state WDAY-TV

‘But at the end of the day you have to make a decision, and I’ve made that decision.’

‘I will be voting no on Judge Kavanaugh.’

In a statement minutes later, Heitkamp said that ‘[i]n addition to the concerns about his past conduct, last Thursday’s hearing called into question Judge Kavanaugh’s current temperament, honesty, and impartiality.’

Senate Republicans and Democrats engaged in angry clashes Thursday over the quickly completed FBI background investigation into sex assault allegations against Kavanaugh.

The rushed investigation didn’t appear to change any minds, but it will provide midterm election campaign fodder until November 6.

Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, told reporters that a hotly contested FBI 'report did not corroborate any of the allegations against Judge Kavanaugh'

Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, told reporters that a hotly contested FBI 'report did not corroborate any of the allegations against Judge Kavanaugh'

Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, told reporters that a hotly contested FBI report ‘did not corroborate any of the allegations against Judge Kavanaugh’

Heitkamp’s decision complicates her re-election efforts in a state where Trump romped over Hillary Clinton, winning by nearly 36 percentage points.

It also brings the total of ‘no’ votes to 48, all Democrats. Republicans have the same number of ‘yes’ votes in their pocket. 

They just about destroyed a good person. 
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley

The one undeclared Democrat, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, indicated there would be no decision from him before Friday.

He told reporters in the Capitol on Thursday afternoon that he’ll return to read more of the FBI report on the Kavanaugh allegations Friday morning.

‘Heidi made her decision, I’ll make mine,’ he told CNN.

If half of those four vote in Kavanaugh’s favor, the GOP will have enough to Vice President Pence’s tiebreaker to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by Justice Anthony Kennedy’s summer retirement.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters Thursday afternoon that the FBI report ‘did not corroborate any of the allegations against Judge Kavanaugh.’

He complained about the Democrats stalling for time, saying that ‘there’s no way anything we did would satisfy the Democrats. They’ve always got a reason why the goalposts have got to be moved farther down the field.’

‘They’re dug in,’ he claimed. 

Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley scolded the press, saying that when reporters came to his office to interview protesters, they only sought to speak to activists who opposed Kavanaugh.

‘That’s a bias that none of you should be proud of!’ the normally calm Iowan boomed.

Protesters hold up signs during a protest against Kavanaugh outside the Supreme Court on Thursday

Protesters hold up signs during a protest against Kavanaugh outside the Supreme Court on Thursday

Protesters hold up signs during a protest against Kavanaugh outside the Supreme Court on Thursday

Protesters swamped Capitol Hill on Thursday, holding anti-Kavanaugh demonstrations inside, outside and near U.S. Senate buildings

Protesters swamped Capitol Hill on Thursday, holding anti-Kavanaugh demonstrations inside, outside and near U.S. Senate buildings

Protesters swamped Capitol Hill on Thursday, holding anti-Kavanaugh demonstrations inside, outside and near U.S. Senate buildings

 Massive presence: This was the scene in the courtyard of the Hart Office Building,  one of the areas where senators have their offices on Capitol Hill

 Massive presence: This was the scene in the courtyard of the Hart Office Building,  one of the areas where senators have their offices on Capitol Hill

 Massive presence: This was the scene in the courtyard of the Hart Office Building,  one of the areas where senators have their offices on Capitol Hill

Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley blasted reporters for seeking to interview only anti-Kavanaugh activists holding sit-ins in his office: 'That's a bias that none of you should be proud of!'

Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley blasted reporters for seeking to interview only anti-Kavanaugh activists holding sit-ins in his office: 'That's a bias that none of you should be proud of!'

Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley blasted reporters for seeking to interview only anti-Kavanaugh activists holding sit-ins in his office: ‘That’s a bias that none of you should be proud of!’

Sen. Susan Collins

Sen. Susan Collins

Sen. Lisa Murkowski

Sen. Lisa Murkowski

FINAL FOUR: The senators who remain undeclared on Judge Kavanaugh’s nominationinclude (clockwise from top left) Arizona Republican Jeff Flake, West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin, Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski and Maine Republican Susan Collins

Protesters swamped the Capitol again on Thursday, holding anti-Kavanaugh demonstrations inside and outside U.S. Senate buildings.

Some Republican senators have expressed unease over protesters who have confronted them inside their offices, restaurants, airports and even outside their homes. They discussed security matters behind closed doors earlier this week at a private lunch.

United States Capitol Police have arrested dozens of protesters in recent days and stepped up their presence in Capitol hallways. The impassioned fight over Kavanaugh’s nomination has also led to heightened security at the Capitol, with some senators using police escorts to shield them from protesters.

Elevators have become potential flashpoints after Flake was successfully confronted in one last Friday morning by two sexual assault survivors. 

The experience led to one of the most dramatic twists in the Kavanaugh saga, with Flake saying just after that he wouldn’t be comfortable with a vote until the FBI had conducted an investigation into assault allegations.

Grassley said Thursday that the Kavanaugh confirmation process had gone quickly downhill when Minority Leader Chuck Schumer pledged early on that ‘we’re going to do everything we can to stop this nomination.’

‘They just about destroyed a good person,’ he complained.

Texas Sen. John Cornyn insisted that at the conclusion of the FBI’s probe, ‘there has been no one to corroborate the allegations make by Dr. Ford or Ms. Ramirez,’ the second Kavanaugh accuser.

And Orrin Hatch, a committee Republican from Utah, blasted Democrats for putting Kavanaugh ‘through this type of a mess just because they are unhappy that Donald Trump had the right to appoint him.’

WATCH YOUR STEP: A deidcated security guard was traveling with Sen. Susan Collins on Wednesday

WATCH YOUR STEP: A deidcated security guard was traveling with Sen. Susan Collins on Wednesday

WATCH YOUR STEP: A deidcated security guard was traveling with Sen. Susan Collins on Wednesday

ns of protesters in recent days and stepped up their presence in Capitol hallways. The impassioned fight over Kavanaugh's nomination has also led to heightened security at the Capitol, with some senators using police escorts to shield them from protesters

ns of protesters in recent days and stepped up their presence in Capitol hallways. The impassioned fight over Kavanaugh's nomination has also led to heightened security at the Capitol, with some senators using police escorts to shield them from protesters

ns of protesters in recent days and stepped up their presence in Capitol hallways. The impassioned fight over Kavanaugh’s nomination has also led to heightened security at the Capitol, with some senators using police escorts to shield them from protesters

The officer traveling with Collings stood watch as  she and Sen. Corey Booker of New Jersey boarded an elevator in the Capitol on Wednesday, as well

The officer traveling with Collings stood watch as  she and Sen. Corey Booker of New Jersey boarded an elevator in the Capitol on Wednesday, as well

The officer traveling with Collings stood watch as  she and Sen. Corey Booker of New Jersey boarded an elevator in the Capitol on Wednesday, as well

A demonstrator is detained as activists rally inside the Senate Hart Office Building during a protest in opposition Kavanugh on Thursday

A demonstrator is detained as activists rally inside the Senate Hart Office Building during a protest in opposition Kavanugh on Thursday

A demonstrator is detained as activists rally inside the Senate Hart Office Building during a protest in opposition Kavanugh on Thursday

Protesters hold signs which read 'We Will Not Be Silent' and 'This is a coverup, not an investigation'

Protesters hold signs which read 'We Will Not Be Silent' and 'This is a coverup, not an investigation'

Protesters hold signs which read ‘We Will Not Be Silent’ and ‘This is a coverup, not an investigation’

A group of protesters unfurls a banner which reads: 'We believe all survivors'

A group of protesters unfurls a banner which reads: 'We believe all survivors'

A group of protesters unfurls a banner which reads: ‘We believe all survivors’

Senate Democrats said their fears had been realized after the FBI delivered documents to the chamber. They demanded everything be made public.

They fumed it was ‘limited’ and ‘incomplete’ and accused the White House of constraining agents from questioning both Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, whose own attorneys called it a ‘stain on the FBI.’

‘Republicans have already declared there wasn’t a ‘hint’ of misconduct’ documented by the FBI, said California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the committee’s ranking Democrat..

‘But based on our briefing and review of the documents, despite the obvious restrictions that were placed on the investigation, that is not true.’

After accessing the FBI report Thursday morning, several Democrats questioned the investigation’s thoroughness.

‘I read the FBI report. This whole thing is a sham. This stunted, strangled investigation was designed to provide cover, not to provide the truth,’ Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley told NBC News.

Democrats have repeatedly questioned why more witnesses weren’t interviewed by FBI agents, who were reported to have only spoke to nine people in their five-day review of allegations against Kavanaugh.

Democratic Sen. Ed Markey charged that the White House and Senate Republicans orchestrated a halfhearted FBI probe to protect Kavanaugh.

‘It’s obviously a cover-up,’ Markey told CNN. ‘The Trump White House, working with the Republican leadership in the Senate, have deliberately circumscribed this investigation.’

Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch complained that Democrats opposed Kavanaugh solely because they were angry President Donald Trump had won the 2016 election, and the right to appoint Supreme Court justices

Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch complained that Democrats opposed Kavanaugh solely because they were angry President Donald Trump had won the 2016 election, and the right to appoint Supreme Court justices

Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch complained that Democrats opposed Kavanaugh solely because they were angry President Donald Trump had won the 2016 election, and the right to appoint Supreme Court justices

'It appears to be a very thorough investigation,' said Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins

'It appears to be a very thorough investigation,' said Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins

‘It appears to be a very thorough investigation,’ said Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins

The Republicans who spoke Thursday said they believe Kavanaugh is a good man who was 'smeared' by Democrats playing dirty politics

The Republicans who spoke Thursday said they believe Kavanaugh is a good man who was 'smeared' by Democrats playing dirty politics

The Republicans who spoke Thursday said they believe Kavanaugh is a good man who was ‘smeared’ by Democrats playing dirty politics

But Republicans shot back there was no witness list on their part and the FBI could interview whoever it pleased.

‘We did not come up with a list of people who the FBI should interview. The FBI was requested to conduct an investigation into any and all credible, current accusations of sexual misconduct by Judge Kavanaugh and the FBI made the decision as to who to interview,’ said GOP Sen. Mike Lee.

The White House, however, has repeatedly kicked the can to Senate Republicans, saying they directed the FBI investigation according to their wishes.

‘My White House is doing whatever the senators want,’ Trump said on Monday, a message he repeated as the week went on. 

But Lee nudged that can back down the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, reminding reporters in the Capitol on Thursday that all requests in the investigation stemmed from the White House.

‘Our request was to the White House. The White House then made the request of the FBI to conduct a supplemental investigation into current credible accusations of sexual misconduct. They did that,’ he said.

GOP leadership and the White House proclaimed the FBI had given Kavanaugh a clean bill of health. President Trump tweeted: ‘This is now the 7th time the FBI has investigated Judge Kavanaugh. If we made it 100, it would still not be good enough for the Obstructionist Democrats.’

Kavanaugh has been a political football for weeks, with both parties trying to woo the few undecided centrists who held his fate.

While most of them played coy and ran from TV cameras, their partisan leaders on Capitol Hill made the most of the attention the stalemate provided.

Democrats played for time, hoping the final vote would slide ever-closer to Election Day and put intensifying pressure on Republicans who are wearying of President Trump’s short coattails.

Republicans had a starker message, portraying their adversaries as swamp-infected dirt-slingers who were willing to doom a family in order to establish a sustainable bullying posture.

‘A vote against judge Kavanaugh tomorrow will be a vote for abusing the confirmation process and a good person,’ Cornyn huffed Thursday, ‘and it will be a vote for the shameful intimidation tactics that have been employed as part of an orchestrated smear campaign. 

Democrats demanded that the 'very limited' FBI background investigation of Kavanaugh and sexual assault allegations be made public in a redacted form

Democrats demanded that the 'very limited' FBI background investigation of Kavanaugh and sexual assault allegations be made public in a redacted form

Democrats demanded that the ‘very limited’ FBI background investigation of Kavanaugh and sexual assault allegations be made public in a redacted form

Heitkamp said Thursday that she wanted to see senators ‘take politics out of the Supreme Court as much as possible.’

‘Both sides horribly handled the process around this nomination,’ she declared. ‘We must learn from these mistakes.’

A red-state senator considered among the most endangered Democrats, she said she sided with Christine Ford, praising her courage for testifying in a closely watched hearing a week ago.

‘Dr. Ford gave heartfelt, credible, and persuasive testimony. It took great courage and also came at great personal cost. She had nothing to gain and everything to lose by coming forward with her deeply personal story,’ she said.

‘It was clear that she was testifying not because she wanted to, but because she felt it was her civic duty. When I listened to Dr. Ford testify, I heard the voices of women I have known throughout my life who have similar stories of sexual assault and abuse.’

Trump was in North Dakota on June 27, the day Kennedy announced his retirement. ‘Heidi will vote ‘no’ to any pick we make to the Supreme Court,’ he warned then.

Collins declared the probe ‘very thorough’ in a good sign for the embattled nominee. With Republicans holding just a 51-vote majority, the approval of Collins on how the process was conducted is a pivotal development.

Another holdout, Flake of Arizona, said the FBI reports provided ‘no additional corroborating information’ – a possible indication he could find his way to a ‘yes’ vote with the final roll call expected Saturday night.

The fate of Kavanaugh’s nomination now lies in the hands of a quartet of senators: Collins, Flake, Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski and West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin.

The three Republicans viewed the report at the same time early Thursday afternoon.

Murkowski, a moderate Republican, met on Thursday with more than a dozen female constituents who shared their stories of being victimized in sexual assaults, according to MSNBC.

The Alaska Senator hosted dozens of women in her office on Capitol Hill for more than an hour in what was described as an ’emotional’ meeting.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is on the verge of installing Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, having previously shepherded conservative Neil Gorsuch there and prevented President Obama from filling a vacancy

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is on the verge of installing Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, having previously shepherded conservative Neil Gorsuch there and prevented President Obama from filling a vacancy

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is on the verge of installing Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, having previously shepherded conservative Neil Gorsuch there and prevented President Obama from filling a vacancy

The fast pace of the FBI’s investigation, under terms Democrats charge were set by the White House, led to still more angry recriminations on and off the Senate floor as the Kavanaugh nomination edged toward a vote despite a bitter row over sexual assault allegations.

‘We had many fears that this was a very limited process that would constrain the FBI from getting all the facts,’ said Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer just outside his Senate office hours after the documents were first made available for one-by-one review. 

WHO THE FBI ARE KNOWN TO HAVE QUESTIONED IN THE KAVANAUGH PROBE

Accuser Debbie Ramirez

She says Kavanaugh exposed himself during a dorm party in their freshman year at Yale. Her attorney says she gave a list of 20 potential witnesses to the FBI

Kavanaugh friend Mark Judge

Man who Christine Blasey Ford says was in the room when Kavanaugh tried to rape her. His attorney said his interview spread over Monday and Tuesday. 

Judge, a recovering alcoholic, has denied being present at any such event and said he believed his high school friend’s innocence. He also denied claims that he and Kavanaugh spiked drinks with drugs and were present during third accuser Julie Swetnick’s alleged gang rape

Kavanaugh friend Tim Gaudette

His house was the venue for a mid-week ‘skis’ (beers) party on July 1, 1982, according to Kavanaugh’s calendars. Ford described a party with an almost identical list of attendees. His attorney confirmed an interview but did not say what Gaudette told agents.

 

 

 

Kavanaugh friend P.J. Smyth

He was named by Ford as being at the party downstairs when she was sexually assaulted, and featured on the July 1 ‘skis’ night list of attendees. Has previously said he did not recall such an event.

Kavanaugh friend Chris ‘Squi’ Garrett

Has been named by Ford as someone she was dating in the summer of 1982, and is on the list of attendees of the ‘skis’ party. His attorney says he spoke to the FBI but did not disclose his evidence.

Ford friend Leland Keyser

Ford said her longtime friend was at the party where she alleges she was assaulted and was downstairs at the time.  Has denied any memory of such an event but Ford said Leland sent a text message saying she believed her.

‘Having received a thorough briefing on the documents, those fears have been realized,’ Schumer complained.

‘I disagree with Senator Grassley’s statement that there was no hint of misconduct,’ Schumer said, referencing a pronouncement by Judiciary Chairman Sen. Charles Grassley, who was the first to get a look at the FBI materials. Schumer did not elaborate on the materials, which are meant to be kept confidential.

But potentially far more relevant than the fury of the minority was the apparent satisfaction by Collins, who Kavanaugh critics have long feared and suspected would provide support for the nominee, despite seeking assurances that the precedent of Roe v. Wade be preserved.

‘It appears to be a very thorough investigation. But I’m going to go back to personally read the interviews,’ Collins said Thursday morning.

Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, who helped demand the additional FBI check, said Thursday morning: ‘We’ve seen no new, credible corroboration – no new corroboration at all.’

Senate watchers took the comment as a sign she was gaining more comfort with voting for the nominee, despite complaints that other potential witnesses who reached out to the bureau had not been contacted.

The top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary, Dianne Feinstein, voiced her own concern, as she went back to complaining about document production issues that dominated Kavanaugh’s initial confirmation hearing weeks ago. 

‘It looks to be a product of an incomplete investigation that was limited, perhaps by the White House, I don’t know,’ Feinstein complained. 

‘But the White House certainly blocked access to millions of documents from Judge Kavanaugh’s record, I know that,’ she said. 

‘What I can say is that the most notable part of this report is what’s not in it. As we noted by the White House, the FBI did not interview Brett Kavanaugh, nor did the FBI interview Dr. Blasey Ford,’ Feinstein continued.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell delivered his own angry statement on the Senate floor Thursday, his voice cracking as he said: ‘It’s time for us to stand up to this kind of thing.’

He complained about ‘smears’ against Kavanaugh and senators being shouted down as they went about their lives, and said voting down Kavanaugh would set a ‘fundamentally unAmerican precedent.’

‘Is that what the Senate’s going to be known for? Your nomination comes up here and we destroy your reputation,’ he said. ‘Are we going to allow this to happen – in this country?’

President Trump has been briefed on the FBI report reviewing allegations of sexual misconduct against Brett Kavanaugh by aides but has not pored over the information himself.

It was unclear on Thursday morning as the White House barreled ahead with the judge’s Supreme Court nomination whether the president had spoken to Kavanaugh since the report came out by phone.

A spokesman for the president and Kavanaugh couldn’t say when the last time they spoke was and whether they had talked face-to-face since the judge was accused of sexually assaulting at at least three women, including Christine Blasey Ford.

Rah Shah said that White House officials who had read the FBI’s supplemental background check report were confident that Kavanaugh would be seated on the bench when the Senate takes a vote this weekend.

Shah was asked if the considered the new materials not to corroborate sexual misconduct allegations:

‘I want to be guarded against characterizing it in too much depth….There are a lot of restrictions on how the White House can talk about this information,’ he responded, citing privacy act regulations and years-old memorandums from the White House counsel’s office and the Justice Department. ‘We are fully confident after review this information senators will be comfortable voting yes.’

The report finds no corroboration to Ford's claims that Kavanaugh pinned her down, tried to pull her clothes off, then covered her mouth as she called out, sources say

The report finds no corroboration to Ford's claims that Kavanaugh pinned her down, tried to pull her clothes off, then covered her mouth as she called out, sources say

The report finds no corroboration to Ford’s claims that Kavanaugh pinned her down, tried to pull her clothes off, then covered her mouth as she called out, sources say

Shah pushed back against a flurry of claims from former classmates about Kavanaugh’s college drinking, which critics say could impugn his testimony about other matters if he wasn’t truthful before the Senate.

‘And to be clear also, a lot of people are coming forward with claims about his high school and college drinking which the Senate hasn’t asked us about, but also more importantly, he has already admitted in his testimony that he drank in high school, drank in college, sometimes drank too much, drank underage,’ said Shah.

‘He said he liked beer. I don’t really know what folks who are demanding an open-ended fishing expedition into those areas want other than delay, delay, delay,’ he added.

‘We stand 100 percent with Brett Kavanaugh,’ White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders declared on Fox News two hours later.

She indicated that the president still hadn’t read the report yet continues to back his nominee based on his aides’ description of it. ‘Let’s put this to a vote and do it quickly,’ she said.

A single copy of the report was sent to senators to read on Thursday morning, in a secure room in the U.S. Capitol’s basement, ahead of an expected final vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination on Saturday.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley said after a briefing from staff on its contents that his support for Kavanaugh remains unflinching.

If other senators draw the same conclusions from the report as the White House, they will mostly be left in the same position as last week – weighing contradictory and heartfelt testimony from two individuals about an incident that allegedly took place more than 35 years ago. 

HOW SENATE IS READING THE KAVANAUGH FBI REPORT

The Senate received the results of the FBI ‘supplemental background investigation’ into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh early Thursday.

Republican lawmakers took part in the initial review of the restricted, single copy report between 8am-9am, with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, Chuck Grassley going first.

By 9am, Democratic senators accessed the report, with California Senator Dianne Feinstein to start, as the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee/

No photographs are allowed of it and any notes made from it have to stay in the room.

Secure room: Behind these doors is the Secure Compartmentalized Information Facility - known as a SCIF - where senators will read the report.

Secure room: Behind these doors is the Secure Compartmentalized Information Facility - known as a SCIF - where senators will read the report.

Secure room: Behind these doors is the Secure Compartmentalized Information Facility – known as a SCIF – where senators will read the report.

Following initial review, all 100 senators will alternate. Alternating one copy of an FBI report between senators is typical for judicial nominees, Republican aides said in a statement.

Also briefed on its contents are 10 Senate staffers who can then brief other senators. 

Senators are not permitted to discuss the specific contents of the document with anyone who has not seen it. 

The review of the 302 form takes place in a Sensitive Compartmentalized Information Facility in the basement of the Capitol.

Having the single copy viewed in a secure room will supposedly help to stop leaks, which are expected to hit within seconds of the document arriving in the building, if not before. 

The vote will decide the make-up of the nation’s highest court for years to come. Kavanaugh’s confirmation will cement conservative control of the judicial system, giving Trump’s party the upper hand in legal disputes that will define the next generation.

The FBI finished its investigation late Wednesday, two days ahead of schedule, and distributed it in the wee hours of Thursday morning.

Shah said in a statement just after 2:20 am EDT that the White House had received the report and it was being transmitted to the Senate.

‘This is the last addition to the most comprehensive review of a Supreme Court nominee in history, which includes extensive hearings, multiple committee interviews, over 1,200 questions for the record and over a half million pages of documents,’ the White House spokesman said.

‘With this additional information, the White House is fully confident the Senate will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.’

Grassley told reporters on Thursday morning: ‘I’ve now received a committee staff briefing on the FBI’s supplement to Judge Kavanaugh’s background investigation file. There’s nothing in it that we didn’t already know.

‘These uncorroborated accusations have been unequivocally and repeatedly rejected by Judge Kavanaugh, and neither the Judiciary Committee nor the FBI could locate any third parties who can attest to any of the allegations. There’s also no contemporaneous evidence,’ he said.

‘This investigation found no hint of misconduct and the same is true of the six prior FBI background investigations conducted during Judge Kavanaugh’s 25 years of public service.’

WHY DIDN’T THEY ASK ME ABOUT BELLIGERENT BRETT, ASKS HIS SUITE MATE 

Brett Kavanaugh’s college suite-mate is among multiple potential witnesses who have contacted the FBI seeking to be interviewed but who have not heard back – as the bureau rushed to assemble just nine interviews and hand them off to the Senate.

The FBI’s hurried five-day background investigation into sex assault allegations against the Supreme Court nominee is drawing outrage for failing to bring in more than 25 potential witnesses.

Debbie Ramirez, who did speak to the FBI, says she provided a list of 20 potential witnesses. Kavanaugh’s college roommate, James Roche, claims Kavanaugh lied under oath and was ‘frequently, incoherently drunk’ in college. As of a Wednesday evening op-ed he published about it, the FBI had not contacted him.  

James Appold, who claims Kavanaugh was ‘frequently, incoherently drunk,’ told the New Yorker he reached out to the FBI last week but has yet to hear back. 

Appold went on the record with the New Yorker in a story published Wednesday night, after earlier vouching for the character of Ramirez but while requesting anonymity.

‘There were two sides to Brett,’ he said.

The future Appeals Court judge could be studious. ‘That was true part of the time, but so are the other things that have been said about him. He drank a lot, and when he was drinking he could be aggressive, and belligerent.’ 

 

Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer slapped back at a Democratic news conference, telling reporters he disagreed that there ‘was no hint’ of misconduct in the FBI’s limited report.

‘The fact that there is only one document in there for 100 senators is another example of constraining the ability of all senators and the American public to see the whole truth and nothing but,’ Schumer said.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein lit into the White House at the presser, saying, ‘It now appears that they also blocked the FBI from doing their job.’

Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said her party believes that the scope of the FBI investigation should be limited.

‘We do not agree that the White House should tie the FBI’s hands,’ she said.

The California Democrat swatted back at Trump’s press team and said ‘it is simply not credible’ to say that testimony from Ford and Kavanuagh is a substitute for FBI interview.

‘In my view, from what I saw, the interview was very limited, and it will be interesting after all of the members have an opportunity to read the documents,’ she said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell remarked on the Senate floor that nomination had went way off the rails, with ‘wild tales of violent gangs’ and ‘fist fights’ in high school and college.

He accused Democrats of ‘an outrageous smear’ campaign and a blatantly undermine the ‘presumption of innocence no longer applies in this country.’

‘Brett Kavanaugh is stunningly and totally qualified for this job,’ he said, calling his academic and legal credentials ‘second to none.’

He attended Yale, had three clerkships on the court and worked in the White House counsel office, McConnell said. He said he’d have reacted the way that Kavanaugh did to the allegations, as well.

‘I’d be shocked if it were not done in an aggressive fashion, for goodness sake,’ McConnell said.

Five senators riding the fence will determine Kavanaugh’s fate; their counterparts have already announced their positions on the nomination. It wasn’t clear on Thursday whether Trump had talked

Aside from the sexual assault allegations brought by Ford and other women, Democrats say that Kavanaugh lied to senators about his drinking during his Judiciary Committee hearing.

Republicans have meanwhile poked holes into Ford’s claims, including her assertion she developed claustrophobia as a result of her alleged assault and had to delay her testimony because she has a related fear of flying on planes.

The report will be forwarded to senators on Thursday with Mitch McConnell promising a vote on Kavanaugh's nomination some time this week

The report will be forwarded to senators on Thursday with Mitch McConnell promising a vote on Kavanaugh's nomination some time this week

The report will be forwarded to senators on Thursday with Mitch McConnell promising a vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination some time this week

Democrats are now expected to focus their attentions on whether Kavanaugh lied during his hearing, after Jeff Flake - who helped order the probe - indicated he would vote 'no' if it could be proved he was untruthful

Democrats are now expected to focus their attentions on whether Kavanaugh lied during his hearing, after Jeff Flake - who helped order the probe - indicated he would vote 'no' if it could be proved he was untruthful

Democrats are now expected to focus their attentions on whether Kavanaugh lied during his hearing, after Jeff Flake – who helped order the probe – indicated he would vote ‘no’ if it could be proved he was untruthful

Trump ripped into Ford at a rally on Tuesday for fuzzy testimony that didn’t nail down the location of the party at which she says she was nearly raped.

Imitating the university professor and Kavanaugh accuser, Trump said, ‘I had one beer. Well, do you think it was? Nope, it was one beer.’

‘How did you get home? I don’t remember. How’d you get there? I don’t remember. Where is the place? I don’t remember. How many years ago was it? I don’t know,’ Trump said.

The impression roiled senators, including three Republicans that Trump was supposed to be courting.

Sen. Jeff Flake said he was ‘appalled’ by the president’s conduct. Swing-voting Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski also indicated that they were offended. 

Sanders said that the White House has been ‘in close contact with the Senate’ without confirming that the president had talked to any of the three about their reservations.

She suggested that he hadn’t talk to the wavering Republicans or two red-state Democrats who voted for his last Supreme Court nominee. Sen. Manchin could still vote with Republicans.

Democrats like Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader, added the Trump impression to a growing list of problems they have with the proceedings.

They say that the FBI did not speak to enough witnesses and that all the sexual assault accusations against the D.C. Circuit court judge should be probed.

They have also alleged that Kavanaugh does not have the temperament to be on the court after last Thursday’s hearing, where he became outwardly emotional.

During a testy exchange with Sen. Amy Klobuchar, the judge denied drinking to excess and barked at her, ‘You’re asking about a blackout? I don’t know, have you?’

The White House put forward character witnesses for Kavanaugh such as old friends and women who have worked with him. Two former classmates, one of whom was a college roommate, attested that they had never seen Kavanaugh black out.

On Wednesday a former roommate of Kavanaugh’s, James Roche, accused him of showing ‘contempt for the truth, for the process, for the rule of law, and for accountability’ during his hearing.

Roche and Kavanaugh shared a three-person room at Yale College for several months in 1983, when he claims the freshman ‘regularly’ drank until blacked out. 

Democrats have already raised concerns that the White House limited the FBI investigation and that key suspects were not interviewed (pictured, protesters outside the Supreme Court)

Democrats have already raised concerns that the White House limited the FBI investigation and that key suspects were not interviewed (pictured, protesters outside the Supreme Court)

Democrats have already raised concerns that the White House limited the FBI investigation and that key suspects were not interviewed (pictured, protesters outside the Supreme Court)

Dems are also expected to attack Kavanaugh on wider concerns that he lied to senators during sworn testimony (pictured, protesters in Washington DC)

Dems are also expected to attack Kavanaugh on wider concerns that he lied to senators during sworn testimony (pictured, protesters in Washington DC)

Dems are also expected to attack Kavanaugh on wider concerns that he lied to senators during sworn testimony (pictured, protesters in Washington DC)

Chad Ludington, Liz Swisher, and Mark Krasberg, former Yale students who knew the now-judge, have also indicated that he lied about his past drinking.

Meanwhile Kerry Berchem, another Yale alum, claims to be in possession of texts that show Kavanaugh knew about allegations from another sex accuser – Deborah Ramirez – days before they were made public.

In sworn testimony, Kavanaugh said he didn’t know about the claims until after they were published in the New Yorker.

Democrats have also raised concerns that the probe was not thorough enough amid concerns that the White House limited its scope.

FBI agents contacted 10 people and interviewed nine of them, the New York Times reports, though it is not clear why the tenth was not interviewed.

Senators will be allowed to review the report from 8am in a secure room at the Capitol, or else be briefed by select members of staff.

A preliminary vote is then expected to take place on Friday, before a final vote as early as Saturday.

Roche, Ludington, Swisher, Krasberg and Berchem say they were not contacted by the FBI, despite going public with their claims against Kavanaugh.

Meanwhile two other anonymous figures told CNN that they contacted the FBI with evidence – including the names of people who may have witnessed Kavanaugh allegedly exposing himself to Ramirez at a party.

However, both those people say they were brushed off by the agency.

Ramirez is the only one of Kavanaugh’s three named accusers to have been interviewed by the FBI, who did not speak with Ford or Julie Swetnick.

Swetnick claims she witnessed Kavanaugh behaving inappropriately to women at parties while drunk.

President Trump has denied that he ordered the FBI to limit its probe, saying he instructed agents to question whoever the wish.

Democrats have asked to see a copy of the directive that was sent to the bureau for the sake of transparency, but have been brushed off.

Mitch McConnell has also said the report will not be made public, as is typical for such background checks.

However, colleagues across the aisle have argued that the extraordinary nature of this case warrants full disclosure.

McConnell has insisted that a vote to confirm Kavanaugh will take place this week.  

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