Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s mine-laden trek to the U.S. Supreme Court ended Saturday with a narrow Senate approval, his skids greased by a November-shy Democrat and a president who defended him against an onslaught of uncorroborated sexual assault claims.
The court will return from eight to nine this week. The political fallout won’t be known until November 6, when more than one-third of the senators and every House member will face voters.
‘He’s going in looking very good,’ President Donald Trump said on the South Lawn of the White House, a day after Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins offered her stamp of approval, guaranteeing a the narrowest of victories. When Vice President Mike Pence’s gavel fell, it was a 50-48 tally with one Republican sitting on the sidelines as a favor to a friend.
Protesters in the Senate gallery, mostly female, had other ideas. They interrupted the vote at several stages, drawing police to remove them. Pence, presiding over the Supreme Court reckoning, demanded order as cries of ‘Shame! Shame!’ and ‘I do not consent!’ rang out.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spent Saturday predicting a red wave of Republican election turnout, saying activists on the left have shot Democrats in the foot.
‘Our base is fired up,’ he told reporters after the vote. ‘We finally discovered the one thing that would fire up the Republican base. And we didn’t think of it. The other side did it.’
Federal Judge Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed Saturday as the next Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, despite Democrats objections centered on the uncorroborated sexual assault allegations of a woman who claimed he attaced her 36 years ago
The 50-48-1 vote reflected pro-Kavanaugh Republican Sen. Steve Daines’ decision to spend the day at his daughter’s wedding in Montana, anti-Kavanaugh Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s decision to vote ‘present’ instead of ‘no’ in a show of respect for him
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Saturday that liberals’ vehement opposition to Kavanaugh has fired up the Republican base in time to make a different in the November 6 midterm eletions
Protesters, estimated at 1,000, descended on the U.S. Capitol Saturday and took over the building’s giant staircase to voice their opposition; about 100 who disobeyed U.S. Capitol Police or crossed barricades were arrested
‘The tactics that have been employed, both by Democratic senators and by the virtual mob that’s assaulted all of us in the course of this process has turned our base on fire,’ McConnell said, looking forward to an election exactly one month away.
‘I want to thank the mob, he told The Washington Post.
The Women’s March, the group behind protests the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration last year, tweeted that its members were responsible for disrupting the Kavanaugh vote.
Trump thanked the lawmakers for giving him his second Supreme Court pick in two years.
‘I applaud and congratulate the U.S. Senate for confirming our GREAT NOMINEE, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, to the United States Supreme Court,’ the president tweeted from Air Force One. ‘Later today, I will sign his Commission of Appointment, and he will be officially sworn in. Very exciting!’
Senators knew before Saturday’s vote how it would end. Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia crossed the aisle to support Kavanaugh in the hope of flattening a hurdle to his re-election in a deep red state that Trump won in a landslide.
President Donald Trump told reporters at the White House as he left for a Kansas rally that he has ‘great respect’ for Sen. Susan Collins, the Maine Republican who saved Kavanaugh’s nomination with a speech endorsing his nomination on Friday
The president’s tweeted victory lap came as he sat on Air Force One, after watching the vote on television
Trump congratulated Montana Republican Sen. Steve Daines, who was able to skip the vote in favor of his daughter’s wedding because the GOP had 51 ‘yes’ votes and could spare him
Centrist Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski refused to cast a ‘yes’ vote, but called out ‘present’ instead of ‘no’ so fellow Republican Steve Daines of Montana could skip the roll call and walk his daughter down the aisle on her wedding day.
Trump tweeted that ‘Steve was ready to do whatever he had to, but we had the necessary number. To the Daines Family, congratulations-have a wonderful day!’
The final tally, 50-48-1, was every bit as razor-thin as the national fault-line that rumbled under weeks of hearings for the man Trump nominated to replace retired Justice Anthony Stevens.
About 1,000 protesters occupied the Capitol steps on Saturday, some willingly arrested and loaded into police buses.
‘Vote them out!’ was the most common chant, directed at every Republican who sided with Trump despite a heartfelt sexual assault claim from a woman who claims a 17-year-old Kavanuagh pinned her to a bed and groped her at a 1982 party, when she was 15.
The Women’s March claimed responsibility for the protesters in the Senate gallery who disrupted Saturday’s Kavanaugh vote with cries of ‘Shame! Shame!’ and ‘I do not consent!’
Vice President Mike Pence, fulfilling his constitutional duty to preside over the Senate, called for police to eject protesters from the gallery after about a half-dozen outbursts
A dejected California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, spoke to reporters after exiting the Senate floor
Christine Blasey Ford had hours of Senate Judiciary Committee time to make her case, and won converts outside Congress. But none of the witnesses she cited recalled the events she described in a letter to her senator, California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, that was later leaked to the press.
Ford’s attorney said Saturday that her client would not continue to press her allegations, and does not want to see Congress impeach Kavanaugh.
Liberal forces never abandoned Ford, though, even after Sen. Collins said she found her unpersuasive.
‘I believe that she believes what she testified to,’ Collins told CNN in a needle-threading exercise.
And Trump, normally cool to Collins’ moderate form of Republicanism, declared before leaving for a Kansas rally that ‘I have great respect for Susan Collins and I always have.’
The partisan political split on Kavanaugh, and its implications for political opportunism, never showed signs of letting up on Saturday.
Trump gave a thumbs-up as he walked to Marine One for the lift to Joint Base Andrews, where Air Force One awaited to take him to a rally in Kansas
Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer spoke on the floor, addressing the millionswatching on TV more than the other 99 senators.
‘I share the deep anguish that millions of Americans are experiencing today,’ he said. ‘But I say to you, my fellow Americans, there is one answer: Vote.’
Republican majority Leader Mitch McConnell blasted back, saying Kavanaugh ‘unquestionably deserves confirmation,’ and sniping about the nature of Ford’s claims and the nominee’s denials.
‘This is an institution where the evidence and the facts matter,’ McConnell said. ‘This is a chamber in which the politics of intimitation and personal destruction do not win the day.’
He said in a post-vote press conference that Republicans ‘stood up for the presumption of innocence.’
‘We refused to be intimidated by the mob of people that were coming after Republican members at their homes, and in the halls,’ he said.