Confidence grew among President Donald Trump's fellow Republicans on Thursday that Brett Kavanaugh would win Senate confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court, after positive comments from two wavering lawmakers about an Federal Bureau of Investigation report on accusations of sexual misconduct by the judge.
The 53-year-old judge made what were in effect closing arguments by acknowledging that he became "very emotional" when forcefully denying the allegations at a judiciary committee hearing last week. Kavanaugh himself has categorically denied the accusations against him, calling them "last minute smears" created to delay his nomination process further. Judge has said he did not recall the events described by Ford and that he never saw Kavanaugh act in the manner that she describes.
The self-defence came too late for John Paul Stevens, a retired Supreme Court justice who on Thursday said he once believed Kavanaugh to be a fine judge. Said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., "The senators who requested the supplemental background check got what they requested, and I am ready to vote". Police arrested 300 protesters.
A handful of Republicans and Democrats have not decided whether to support Kavanaugh.
Democrats on the committee had objected to Grassley's earlier statement that the investigation "found no hint of misconduct".
"There's nothing in it that we didn't already know".
Kavanaugh promised in the piece, titled "I am an independent, impartial judge", that his tone was not an indication that his open-mindedness would change if the Senate confirms him to the nation's highest court.
If Kavanaugh is confirmed by the Senate in a vote planned on Saturday, Trump will have succeeded in placing his second justice on the top United States court and fulfilled his pledge to solidify its conservative majority.
But crucially, two key Republican senators who are yet to say how they will vote - Jeff Flake of Arizona and Susan Collins of ME - made positive comments about the probe, which was taken by some to be a sign that they were leaning towards a "yes". In the case of a 50-50 tie, Vice President Mike Pence might break it in favor of Kavanaugh. Both said they wanted the FBI investigation, and both denounced Trump's mockery of Ford this week in Mississippi.
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Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Calif., the top Democrat on the committee, later told reporters that "the most notable part of this report is what's not in it". "Those fears have been realised".
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who supports Kavanaugh's nomination, addressed the stream of protesters from the Senate floor Wednesday, talking about how Republicans are coming into contact with protesters in their offices.
But several Democrats lit into the process, with Senator Ron Wyden branding it a "whitewash" and Senator Mazie Hirono wincing at Republican claims of comprehensiveness. The person said the mutual friends did not "pressure" Keyser.
Swetnick accused Kavanaugh and Judge of excessive drinking and inappropriate treatment of women in the early 1980s, among other accusations.
In a powerful testimony, she said Mr Kavanaugh, then 17, locked her in a bedroom at a party before trying to remove her clothing and putting his hand over her mouth when she tried to scream.
Republican Sens. Susan Collins of ME and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska have been at the center of the Kavanaugh maelstrom for months, since they expressed concerns over Kavanaugh's anti-abortion views.
"After doing my due diligence and now that the record is apparently closed, I will vote against his confirmation", Senator Heidi Heitkamp said on Thursday.