US Senate braces for key vote on embattled court nominee

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) spoke forcefully on the Senate floor Thursday morning, explaining why he's moving for a vote on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

United States President Donald Trump's fellow Republicans gained confidence on Thursday that his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh could win Senate confirmation after two wavering lawmakers responded positively to an Federal Bureau of Investigation report on accusations of sexual misconduct against the judge.

It was not clear whether Kavanaugh's unorthodox move was motivated by concern that his nomination was in trouble, or whether it was an early attempt to mitigate the political toll of his confirmation fight in the expectation that he will shortly take a seat on the Supreme Court that could cement a conservative majority for many years.

Even if Kavanaugh is rejected, the battle to save his nomination in the face of sexual misconduct allegations has jolted a slumbering Republican base to life just ahead of the November 6 elections, political strategists and new polls suggest.

Demonstrators wait in-line to enter Hart Senate Office Building for a protest against the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

Two Republican "no" votes could sink the nomination. One senator said it was a "cover-up" and a "complete embarrassment".

Under new rules approved a year ago, 50 votes are needed for victory in Friday's procedural vote.

FILE PHOTO: Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh testifies in front of the Senate Judiciary committee regarding sexual assault allegations at the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, U.S., September 27, 2018.

Among those not interviewed were Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, the California college professor who testified last week to Congress that a drunken Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were high school students.

"I was very emotional last Thursday, more so than I have ever been", Kavanaugh wrote.

"I was subjected to wrongful and sometimes vicious allegations", he wrote.

Numerous protesters meanwhile were resigned to the genuine possibility that with a Republican majority in the Senate, Kavanaugh remained on track to be confirmed.

No Republicans have said they will vote against him, but all eyes will be on Flake, Collins, Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski and Democrat Joe Manchin - all potential swing votes.

They accused the White House of limiting the FBI's leeway. So all we know is what we've heard from senators and people at the White House who have seen it or been briefed on it.

Schumer, D-N.Y., who appeared beside her at a news conference, blamed the White House for the limited scope of the latest probe.

Her powerful account, along with Kavanaugh's angry rebuttal, has divided the country, rekindling the national conversation on sexual misconduct and the burden of proof in the #MeToo era. Six of the witnesses involved Ford's claims, including an attorney for one of them, and four were related to Deborah Ramirez, who has asserted that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her when both were Yale freshmen.

Another Democratic Senator, Richard Blumenthal, told reporters it was a "whitewash".

"I believe Dr Ford, and I believe Kavanaugh is part of a Big Old Boys club that are going to protect him no matter what", said Trzepkowski, who came to the march with two male friends. He said the interview with Mr. Judge, for example, lasted about three hours. But he did not apologize for his behavior at the hearing, in which he interrupted senators, turned questions about drinking back on them and seeded his opening remarks with comments about "revenge on behalf of the Clintons" and left-wing groups.

They said 302 people were detained in total, with comedian Amy Schumer and model Emily Ratajkowski reportedly among those arrested.

"I've now received a committee staff briefing on the FBI's supplement to Judge Kavanaugh's background investigation file", he said. However, the calendars he presented during his testimony showed that Kavanaugh had scheduled gatherings strikingly similar to the one Ford described.