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Senate votes to confirm Kavanaugh as hundreds protest at Capitol

The U.S. Senate on Saturday voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court by a margin of 50-48. The vote, cut mostly along party lines after 30 hours of speeches on the Senate floor, came as protests against his confirmation continued to ripple throughout the country. For more, Niels Lesniewski, a senior writer for Roll Call, joins Hari Sreenivasan from the Capitol.

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  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Good evening and thanks for joining us. This afternoon, amid protests from spectators in the Senate gallery that repeatedly disrupted the vote, Judge Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed as an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court by a vote of 50 to 48.

  • MIKE PENCE:

    The Sergeant at Arms will restore order in the gallery.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    The vote came after hours of speeches throughout last night and today, and as protesters gathered all day at the Capitol and at the Supreme Court. Joining us now from the Capitol rotunda with the latest is Niels Lesniewski, senior writer at Roll Call and CQ News. Niels, you were at the Rotunda. Tell us what was going on as we were struggling to figure out what was happening in the C-SPAN cameras because they don't cover the galleries. What did you see? What did you hear?

  • NIELS LESNIEWSKI:

    Sure. It's good to be with you, Hari. I was on the second floor of the Capitol, just outside of the chamber when all of a sudden we heard what you probably saw on those cameras, which are operated by the Senate recording studio, and it became clear that there were a number of protesters who were yelling in the chamber. We had seen similar yesterday on Capitol Hill as well, 14 arrests we believe were made today from protesters who were actually shouting in the galleries as the votes got underway. There were more protesters outside who had at one point earlier in the day basically stormed onto the front of the Capitol and made some of them actually made their way up the stairs. They were outside the building but some of them had made their way up a staircase that you normally don't see members of the public on. So this was sort of to be expected but it was nonetheless the level of tension, particularly, I think with the, from the Secret Service agents who were standing near me, who were here because of Vice President Mike Pence being in the building, there were clearly tense moments today.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Niels, this is just the tip of the protests that we saw on TV or we heard. There have been protests outside as you point out really, in the past 24 hours. Has this momentum been building? I mean are there, were there other arrests that the Capitol Police had to make?

  • NIELS LESNIEWSKI:

    There certainly were. I actually was seeing a lot of arrests being made myself over the last couple of days, including in the the atrium of the Hart Senate Office Building, which is one of the three main office buildings used by the Senate. There have been other arrests for various disruption of proceedings or blocking of hallways and Senate offices throughout. Frankly, because there's a holiday weekend that is upon us, we're probably going to be seeing more protests out in out in some of the states and police officers, and excuse me, senators have had extra police officers and security with them, both inside and outside the Capitol complex in recent weeks. That's really unlike anything that we have seen when there hasn't been a real threat. It's sort of specific.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Niels, finally there has also been talk from say Jerrold Nadler of New York saying, hey listen if the Democrats take over the House this coming election that these investigations are not over that this nomination could still, actually I should say this confirmation, of this confirm Justice could still be investigated?

  • NIELS LESNIEWSKI:

    Certainly, there might be some talk of that in the House. I'm not getting really that much of an appetite for it on the Senate side. Dick Durbin, the number two Democrat who's from Illinois was telling a group of reporters yesterday that really, there is too much work to be done in the coming weeks and probably after the election. He wants to get back to work on appropriation bills and things that can be done in a bipartisan manner and the other thing your viewers should know quickly is that impeachment and removal is really not something that's going to be on the table. It takes 67 votes really in the Senate to convict in an impeachment trial.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    All right. Niels Lesniewski, senior writer at Roll Call and CQ, thanks for joining us.

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