The Senate Judiciary Committee has voted along party lines to advance Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination to the Senate floor.
The 11-10 vote Friday came just one day after Republicans heard testimony from Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teens. Kavanaugh denied the accusation.
At the last minute, Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, said he could not promise to vote for Kavanaugh on the Senate floor and called for a delay of up to a week for a further investigation.
Republicans voted to move ahead with Kavanaugh’s nomination.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley noted the timing on Senate vote was up to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
The Senate Judiciary Committee was supposed to be voting at 1:30 p.m. Friday on whether to recommend Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation, but something is afoot.
Behind-the-scenes negotiations have delayed the committee vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination.
It wasn’t clear what was being discussed. Republicans believed they had to votes to advance Kavanaugh out of the committee when Sen. Jeff Flake announced his support earlier Friday.
But senators seated in the hearing room are talking among themselves — and Flake is not seated. Some senators have stepped out of the room.
Something that may prove handy: the committee *can* vote to send a nominee to the floor w/out recommendation. That is judgment neutral. But allows a Senate floor vote.
— Lisa Desjardins (@LisaDNews) September 28, 2018
The U.S. deserves the best Supreme Court nominee, not just a good one, Sen. Richard Blumenthal says — and Brett Kavanaugh is not the best person for the job.
Blumenthal said he opposed Kavanaugh even before Thursday’s testimony from Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who accused him of sexual assault, based on the judge’s philosophies and views.
But “yesterday my opposition was solidified because of temperament and fitness, which I believe he lacks, by virtue of the screed that he sat here and gave us. His views are still disqualifying for me, but his character and fitness ought to be a reason for everyone to vote no,” Blumenthal said.
Republican Sen. John Neely Kennedy says he believes that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford was once assaulted, but he does not believe Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was involved in the incident.
He called Thursday’s hearing for Ford and Kavanaugh an “intergalactic freakshow.”
“How we treat women in America does matter. This is no country for creepy old men, or young men or middle-aged men. But this is no country at all in my opinion, at least not the kind of country I want to live in, without due process. Both the accuser and the accused is entitled to respect and fairness and yes to due process.”
Sen. Cory Booker spoke for more than 20 minutes as the Senate Judiciary Committee prepared to vote on Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination, the day after an emotional hearing with Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who accused him of sexual assault.
Ultimately, Booker said, he could not be part of what history will likely look back on as a dark moment.
“With that sir, I will leave.”
Several of Booker’s Democratic colleagues left the hearing earlier in the morning, after the committee said it would move forward with a vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination at 1:30 p.m. ET.
Sen. John Cornyn of Texas says it is “cruel” and “indecent” for Democrats to seek public testimony from Mark Judge, a high school friend of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Judge has told the committee in a signed statement that he doesn’t recall the events described by Christine Blasey Ford.
She accuses Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teens. Kavanaugh denies the accusation.
Ford has told senators that Judge was in the room during the alleged assault. Democrats have asked for the committee to subpoena Judge, but Republicans have voted down the request.
Cornyn says Judge admits to being a recovering alcoholic and is a cancer survivor. Cornyn says Democrats are ignoring that and seeking to “drag Mr. Judge into this circus-like atmosphere” and subject his battles with addition to public ridicule.
In Cornyn’s words: “That is cruel. That is reckless. That is indecent.”
CNN cameras caught an extraordinary scene of Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake being confronted by two protesters as he waited in an elevator to take him to the Senate Judiciary Committee meeting.
Moments earlier, Flake had announced he’d vote to confirm Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Flake stood looking downcast as one of the women said to Flake: “Tell me, I’m standing right here in front of you, do you think he’s telling the truth to the country?”
The senator listened for nearly two minutes until the elevator door closed. He told the women he had put out a statement and would have more to say before the committee.
CNN’s Jim Scutto said: “I don’t think we’ve witnessed a moment like that in recent memory.”
“Feels like Alice in Wonderland.”
That’s what a top Democrat says about the Senate Judiciary Committee in moving forward with Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
Vermont’s Patrick Leahy is denouncing the way that majority Republicans have handled Kavanaugh’s nomination. Leahy says the committee has lost its independence and become, in his words, “an arm, and a very weak arm, of the Trump White House.”
The committee has set a vote for later Friday on whether to recommend the nomination to the full Senate.
Leahy says Kavanaugh has been “credibly accused of sexual assault” and the committee has failed to conduct a meaningful investigation.
Christine Blasey Ford testified Thursday that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were teens. Kavanaugh says the accusation is “categorically” false.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein says the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh is “a real test” for the Senate and the nation “to see how we treat women, especially women who are survivors of sexual assault.”
The top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee says that 27 years after the Clarence Thomas hearings, Republicans appear to have a new strategy for handling sexual assault allegations.
She says, “The Republican strategy is no longer ‘attack the victim.’ It is to ignore the victim.”
Feinstein says she’s disappointed the committee is set to vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination less than a day after emotional testimony by Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who accuses Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when both were teenagers. He denies the allegation.
The wife of Justice Clarence Thomas is praising Sen. Lindsey Graham for his criticism of Senate Democrats for their treatment of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Ginni Thomas says on her Facebook page “Thank you, Senator Graham, for speaking for so many of us!”
Thomas included a link to video from Graham’s fiery comments Thursday when he called the Democrats’ actions the “most despicable thing” he has seen in politics.
The link says Graham “exposes Democrat Kavanaugh sham.”
Ginni Thomas is a conservative activist who once worked for congressional Republicans. She made headlines in 2010 when she called Anita Hill and asked Hill to apologize for making sexual harassment allegations about Clarence Thomas after he had been nominated to the Supreme Court.
Update 10:15 a.m.
Several Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee have walked out of a hearing on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
Kamala Harris of California, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island left after the GOP chairman set a vote on the nomination for 1:30 p.m. Friday.
That was approved by a committee vote. Democrats say Republicans are rushing the confirmation.
During that vote, Hirono yelled: “”I strongly object! What a railroad job! No, no, NO.”
Update 10:05 a.m.
Republicans have blocked Democratic efforts to subpoena a high school friend of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh who’s been described as a witness to an alleged assault involving Kavanaugh about three decades ago.
The Senate Judiciary Committee’s vote to subpoena Mark Judge has been defeated in a party-line vote, with all 11 Republicans on the panel voting against the motion and all 10 Democrats voting for it.
Democrats say Judge has never been interviewed by the FBI or questioned by a member of the committee, and that committee has a responsibility to subpoena Judge before it votes on whether to recommend Kavanaugh to the full Senate.
Kavanaugh denies the allegation.
The committee chairman, Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley, has read a statement from Judge that says he doesn’t recall the events described by Kavanaugh’s accuser and “never saw Brett act” in the way that he’s accused of.
9:30 a.m. ET
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh faced a crucial vote Friday as a Senate panel decides whether to move his nomination on to the full Senate a day after he adamantly denied sexually assaulting Christine Blasey Ford, who insisted she’s “100 percent” certain he did.
Meanwhile, there were signs the remarkable testimony before the panel — in which Kavanaugh angrily declared his innocence and Ford calmly recounting the moment in which she says he attacked her — had registered negatively with two organizations whose support Kavanaugh had earlier received.
The American Bar Association urged the Senate Judiciary Committee and the full Senate to delay the vote until the FBI could do a full background check on the assault claims — something President Donald Trump has refused to order.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders dismissed that Friday, telling reporters that Kavanaugh has already “been through six separate background investigations by the FBI.”
Late Thursday, the magazine of the Jesuit religious order in the United States withdrew its endorsement of Kavanaugh, saying the nomination was no longer in the interests of the country and “should be withdrawn.”
“If Senate Republicans proceed with his nomination, they will be prioritizing policy aims over a woman’s report of an assault,” the America magazine editors wrote. “Were he to be confirmed without this allegation being firmly disproved, it would hang over his future decisions on the Supreme Court for decades and further divide the country.”
The magazine’s reversal is significant given Kavanaugh has repeatedly cited his Roman Catholic faith and his years as a student at the Jesuit-run Georgetown Prep school in Maryland.
Former President George W. Bush has been advocating for Kavanaugh with wavering senators in recent days, according to a person familiar with Bush’s outreach who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly.
The White House said it was also engaging with wavering GOP senators, but provided few details. Trump is publicly standing by his nominee.
“His testimony was powerful, honest and riveting,” he tweeted late Thursday. “The Senate must vote!”
Thursday’s testimony appears to have only sharpened the partisan divide over Trump’s nominee. Republicans praised Ford’s bravery in coming forward, but many of them said her account won’t affect their support for Kavanaugh.
The Senate Judiciary Committee, where the initial vote on Kavanaugh will be held, is narrowly split with an 11-10 Republican majority. Democrats are expected to oppose the nominee. But even if the panel deadlocks on whether to recommend the judge for confirmation, the full Senate could start taking procedural votes Saturday on Kavanaugh, setting up a final vote as soon as Tuesday.
“We’re going to move forward,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., as he exited a private late night strategy session with Republican senators. “The committee is going to vote.”
Associated Press writers Kevin Freking, Mary Clare Jalonick, Juliet Linderman, Padmananda Rama, Matthew Daly, Julie Pace and AP photographers J. Scott Applewhite and Carolyn Kaster contributed to this report.
The PBS NewsHour will update this story as it develops.