The Latest: Murkowski calls Kavanaugh decision ‘agonizing’
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh (all times local):
Sen. Lisa Murkowski says she opposes Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh but will ask to be recorded as “present” during Saturday’s confirmation vote to accommodate another GOP senator who will be at his daughter’s wedding in Montana.
Senators often partner like that to allow an absence without affecting the outcome. Murkowski’s vote will allow Sen. Steve Daines to walk his daughter down the aisle.
The Alaska Republican was laying out her reasons late Friday for opposing Kavanaugh, a decision she called “agonizing.”
She said she was “truly leaning” toward confirming the judge. But after watching his testimony, she could not in her conscience conclude “that he is the right person” for the court at this time.
Supreme Court Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor are raising concerns about partisanship on the high court.
Kagan and Sotomayor spoke Friday at an event at Princeton University.
Without mentioning President Donald Trump or Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, the justices responded to a question about the politics of the moment.
Kagan says there had traditionally been a “middle” of the court and it’s not clear there will be going forward. She says it’s important for the court to guard its legitimacy, or the public could lose respect for it.
Sotomayor says it’s important for the justices to rise above partisanship and treat one another with respect and dignity.
Kagan and Sotomayor are both Princeton graduates. Both were appointed by Democratic President Barack Obama. Sotomayor was appointed and confirmed in 2009. Kagan joined the court in 2010.
Sarah Palin is insinuating she could mount a primary challenge against Alaska GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski if she opposes Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
In a tweet Friday, Palin wrote “Hey @lisamurkowski — I can see 2022 from my house.”
The tweet was a reference to an infamous “Saturday Night Live” skit in which Tina Fey, portraying Palin, said she could see Russia from her house.
Murkowski is next up for re-election in 2022. She hasn’t officially said she would vote against Kavanaugh, but opposed a procedural vote related to the nomination earlier Friday. She later told reporters it’s time to think “about the credibility and integrity of our institutions.”
Palin is a former Alaska governor and was GOP presidential candidate John McCain’s running mate in 2008.
The remaining undecided Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin, says he will support Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
The West Virginia senator announced his decision moments after the remaining undecided Republican, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, said she would vote to confirm the nominee.
Kavanaugh is now set to have the votes needed to be confirmed. A vote is expected Saturday.
Manchin says he has reservations because of the sexual misconduct accusations against Kavanaugh and the judge’s temperament in denying them. But he says in a statement he is casting his vote on “what is best for West Virginia.”
Amid a divisive confirmation that has split the Senate and the nation, Manchin says he hopes Kavnaugh “will not allow the partisan nature this process took to follow him onto the court.”
Sen. Susan Collins will vote yes on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
The Maine Republican announced her decision Friday in Senate speech that was disrupted by protesters before it even began and met with applause when it ended. Her support all but ensures Kavanaugh will be confirmed.
Collins says she does not believe the sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh rise to a level to “fairly prevent” him from serving on the court. She says she adheres to a presumption of innocence, and does not believe they reached a threshold of certainty.
Collins has never opposed a Supreme Court nominee, confirming the past five justices from Republican and Democratic presidents.
Kavanaugh cleared a key procedural vote to advance his nomination earlier Friday. A final confirmation vote is expected Saturday.
A federal judge is rejecting an Oregon senator’s attempt to force disclosure of more details on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh before a confirmation vote.
U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson on Friday turned down an emergency request by Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley asking the court to order the release of more than 100,000 pages related to Kavanaugh’s time in the White House Counsel’s Office under George W. Bush.
The White House has declined to make the documents available, citing executive privilege. Merkley filed the suit on Sept. 26, but added a fresh motion Wednesday arguing that lack of access to the documents makes it impossible to properly vet Kavanaugh and “has prevented the U.S. Senate from fulfilling its constitutional duties.”
Jackson on Friday rejected Merkley’s request to accelerate the date of a status hearing set for Tuesday, and then canceled that hearing. Berman suggested that Merkley waited too long to file his motion — nearly a month after the White House announced the pages would be withheld.
The Senate is expected to hold a final Kavanaugh vote on Saturday.
Sen. Steve Daines says he’ll return to Washington D.C. by private jet on his daughter’s wedding day if his vote is needed to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
The Montana Republican said in a statement to The Associated Press that his Republican colleague, Montana congressman Greg Gianforte, “has come to save the day” by offering him use of his private jet.
Daines’ daughter is getting married in Montana on Saturday, when the Senate is expected to hold a final vote on Kavanaugh.
A spokeswoman for Daines said he will walk his daughter down the aisle, and Republicans can hold the vote open if they need him.
There are 51 votes required for confirmation. Republicans hold a slim 51-49 majority. Vice President Mike Pence could break a tie.
The Senate on Friday voted to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination. A final vote is expected on Saturday afternoon.
Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski is strongly suggesting she will vote no on Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court.
The Alaskan told reporters Friday it’s time to think “about the credibility and integrity of our institutions.”
Murkowski was the lone Republican to vote against advancing Kavanaugh’s nomination on Friday. She’s one of two Senate Republicans — along with Susan Collins of Maine — who support abortion rights.
Kavanaugh could tip the court’s balance toward conservatives for a generation.
Murkowski’s spokeswoman could not immediately confirm she will oppose Kavanaugh on the final vote but indicated it appeared that way.
Murkowski is fiercely independent senator known for bucking her party. She acknowledged she’s made “some interesting” votes in her political career.
Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake said he will vote to confirm Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh “unless something big changes.”
But Flake added that he doesn’t expect anything to change. He was one of a handful of senators who hadn’t said how he would vote on Kavanaugh.
He said it was a hard decision and “a difficult decision for everybody.”
Flake predicted that Kavanaugh will be confirmed when the Senate votes on Saturday.
Last week Flake forced his fellow Republicans to order an expanded FBI investigation on sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh. Flake and other senators read that confidential FBI report Thursday. Republicans said it showed that the allegations weren’t corroborated.
Kavanaugh has denied the allegations.
The nation’s largest legal organization is reopening its evaluation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh based on his performance during a Senate hearing last week.
The American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary said Friday it’s revisiting its evaluation based on “new information of a material nature regarding temperament.” It said it was unlikely the process will conclude before the Senate votes on Kavanaugh’s nomination.
Kavanaugh touted his “well-qualified” rating from the ABA committee during angry, emotional testimony last week, in which he denied sexual misconduct allegations.
Democrats have questioned whether he has the temperament for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.
The ABA was among the organizations that had called for an FBI investigation of allegations against Kavanaugh. That probe was completed this week.
Friday’s letter says the original “well-qualified” rating stands, for now.
President Donald Trump is praising the Senate for pushing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh past a key procedural hurdle.
Trump tweeted Friday: “Very proud of the U.S. Senate for voting “YES” to advance the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh!”
The chamber voted 51-49 to move forward with Trump’s nominee. A final vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination could occur over the weekend.
White House aides and allies expressed cautious optimism Friday.
Trump, who framed the nomination as a rallying issue for Republican voters at a Thursday night rally, has been keeping in close contact with staff and Republican allies in the Senate, the White House indicated.
The Senate has pushed Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court past a key procedural hurdle.
The chamber voted 51-49 to move forward with President Donald Trump’s nominee.
A final vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination could occur over the weekend.
There’s no guarantee that the senators who supported moving forward will back Kavanaugh on the final vote. Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who voted to advance Kavanaugh, said she will announce her decision on confirmation later Friday. Also voting to move the nomination forward was Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who had been undecided. But Alaska GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski voted against moving the nomination forward.
Kavanaugh’s nomination has been imperiled by accusations of sexual misconduct. He forcefully denied the allegations.
The Senate has begun a procedural vote on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
Several senators have not said how they will vote: Republicans Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Jeff Flake of Arizona and Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
Kavanaugh’s nomination will need 51 votes to advance. If there’s a tie, Vice President Pence is expected to cast the decisive vote in Kavanaugh’s favor.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has pushed to get Kavanaugh confirmed this week, said he was “feeling good” ahead of the vote.
Senators have been wrestling with the findings of an FBI background investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh. He forcefully denied the allegations.
Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine says she will vote to advance Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination in Friday’s procedural vote.
Collins told reporters she is “voting yes on proceeding to the final confirmation vote” and will announce her decision on confirmation later Friday.
Collins was one of three Republicans seen as undecided on Kavanaugh’s nomination.
Kavanaugh has denied allegations of sexual misconduct in high school and college.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer says Republicans have only themselves to blame for the hurdles in Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Schumer said Friday, “They have a flawed nominee.”
The New York Democrat called it a “shameful culmination” of a process that started when Republicans refused to consider Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s nominee for a seat on the court.
Schumer blamed Republicans’ “scorched earth tactics” as they try to put conservatives on the bench.
Senators are poised to vote Friday to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination ahead of a final confirmation vote over the weekend.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein says Brett Kavanaugh’s testimony before the Judiciary Committee was “so shocking” it makes him unfit to serve on the Supreme Court.
The California Democrat said that the judge’s behavior showed “a man filled with anger and aggression.” She said that revealed a temperament and lack of impartiality that’s unbecoming for the high court. She spoke on the Senate floor ahead of a Friday procedural vote.
Feinstein is the top Democrat on the committee and made her remarks as the Senate opened for a key test vote to advance Kavnaugh’s nomination.
Feinstein says Kavanaugh has not “earned” his seat.
The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee has urged his colleagues to say no to “mob rule” and vote to move Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination forward.
Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley said on the Senate floor ahead of Friday’s procedural vote, “This should have been a respectable and dignified confirmation process.” He says in a previous era a nominee as highly qualified as Kavanaugh would have received unanimous support in the Senate.
Grassley says an FBI investigation “found no hint of misconduct” by Kavanaugh, who has denied a California college professor’s allegations he sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers.
Grassley blames “left-wing outside groups” and “left-wing dark money” for trying to derail Kavanaugh’s nomination. He says what they did to sully Kavanaugh’s reputation was “nothing short of monstrous.”
Democrats say Republicans have tried to rush the process.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he’s “feeling good” ahead of a crucial Senate vote to advance the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
McConnell made the short comment Friday to reporters as he walked to the Senate floor as the chamber opened.
Key GOP senators have not yet said their positions less than an hour before voting. McConnell has little room for error in the narrowly divided Senate with a 51-49 GOP majority. The Senate is set to vote at 10:30 a.m.
Republicans can rely on Vice President Mike Pence to break a tie, but that has never happened for a Supreme Court nominee, according to the Senate Historical Office.
President Donald Trump is criticizing female protesters who confronted senators over Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Trump is calling them “paid professionals only looking to make Senators look bad.”
Trump tweeted Friday about the women flooding Capitol Hill to oppose Kavanaugh. Trump described the women as “rude elevator screamers” and said they have “professionally made identical signs.”
The Senate will take a crucial vote Friday on whether to move Kavanaugh’s nomination forward. The nominee has denied allegations of sexual misconduct from high school and college.
Senators have been confronted by protesters, some of whom who are members or paid staffers for activist groups. Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake was challenged by two women as he entered an elevator last week. Several women who identified themselves as sexual assault survivors approached Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah on Thursday and asked why he’s backing Kavanaugh.
Hatch waved and told them to “grow up” as he entered an elevator.
The No. 2 Senate Democrat says an op-ed written by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on the eve of a Senate vote left him unconvinced that Kavanaugh is qualified for the court. Sen. Dick Durbin says he still believes Kavanaugh doesn’t have the temperament and is too partisan.
The Illinois Democrat told CBS’ “This Morning” on Friday that Kavanaugh’s op-ed, in which he conceded being “very emotional” in his Senate testimony was unpersuasive.
Durbin says he understands that “this has to be a terrible ordeal” for Kavanaugh and his family, but adds: “The fire in his eyes when he turned into this partisan screed is something I’m not going to forget.”
Kavanaugh has denied allegations of sexual assault by California psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford, calling them an orchestrated political hit. In an op-ed published Thursday evening in the Wall Street Journal, the 53-year-old judge acknowledged that he became “very emotional” during his Senate Judiciary testimony but is “hardworking” and “even-keeled.”
The Senate is poised for a crucial vote Friday on whether to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination. Key Republicans remain undecided.
Democratic Sen. Chris Coons, who helped broker a deal with Republican Sen. Jeff Flake that led to an expanded FBI background investigation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, says he doesn’t know how Flake or the other undecided senators will vote.
Coons, of Delaware, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” Friday that his undecided friends are not returning his phone calls, “and that typically is a way a senator tells you they’re busy deciding.”
The Senate is poised to take a crucial vote Friday on whether to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination amid his denials of allegations of sexual misconduct when he was in high school and college. Flake, of Arizona, and two other Republican senators have not announced how they’ll vote. Neither has Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
Republican Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” he doesn’t yet know how the vote will come out but respects his fellow senators’ decision to keep quiet as they consider what to do.
The Senate is taking a crucial vote Friday to advance Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Key GOP senators remain undecided amid allegations of sexual misconduct and intense protests dividing the nation.
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. But in an op-ed published Thursday he insists he remains the same “hardworking, even-keeled” person as always.
Tensions are high at the Capitol, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is pushing ahead with little room for error. Republicans have a slim 51-49 hold on the Senate. A final vote is expected Saturday.