Senate committee prepares to vote on Kavanaugh nomination as key senators remain silent
Senate committee prepares to vote on Kavanaugh nomination as key senators remain silent

Senate committee prepares to vote on Kavanaugh nomination as key senators remain silent

The Senate Judiciary Committee prepared to vote Friday on the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh a day after a dramatic hearing in which President Trump’s nominee and a woman accusing him of sexual assault while a teenager offered starkly different testimony.

The committee is scheduled to convene at 9:30 a.m. to consider Kavanaugh’s nomination, with Republican leaders vowing to press forward with a final vote of the full Senate by early next week.

Three Republicans with potential swing votes — Arizona’s Jeff Flake, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski and Maine’s Susan Collins — remained silent about their plans.

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The most immediate focus will be on Flake, who sits on the Judiciary Committee.

The votes of a couple of other red-state Democrats have also been in play.

Late Thursday, one of them, Sen. Doug Jones (Ala.), said in a tweet that he would vote no if the chamber presses ahead with consideration of Kavanaugh the day after hearing from Christine Blasey Ford, whom Jones said he found “credible & courageous.”

With her voice shaking at times, Ford described in stark detail Thursday being pinned on a bed at a house party by a drunken Kavanaugh, who she said groped her, tried to take off her clothes and put his hand over her mouth to stifle her screams. She said she was “one hundred percent” certain that Kavanaugh was her attacker.

In his tweet, Jones repeated a call for the Senate to postpone the vote and hear from a third person, Mark Judge, who Ford said was in the room when Kavanaugh allegedly assaulted her in 1982.

“What message will we send to our daughters & sons, let alone sexual assault victims?” Jones said in his tweet. “The message I will send is this — I vote no. #RightSideofHistory”

Several of the senators who have not declared a position on Kavanaugh, including Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), held a brief meeting in a private office in the Capitol building after the hearing.

Asked by reporters if he believed Ford, Flake said, “I’m not answering those kinds of questions.”

When asked if he was ready to vote as part of the Judiciary Committee on Friday, he said, “We’ll see.”

Sens. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), who supported previous Trump Supreme Court nominee Neil M. Gorsuch along with Manchin, have also not said how they would vote on Kavanaugh.

Exiting the meeting with Collins, Flake and Murkowski, Manchin said he did not know what the others would do.

“Nobody told me what decision they made,” he said. “Nobody has.”

During Thursday’s hearing, Kavanaugh angrily assailed Democrats for pushing what he said were false charges to “blow me up and take me down.”