[UPDATE BELOW] The Senate voted on Friday to advance Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh to a final confirmation vote this weekend, bringing a credibly accused predator and partisan conspiracist one step closer to a lifetime appointment that he very much believes he deserves.
The cloture vote, which passed 51-49, will limit debate on the nominee for 30 hours, setting up a final vote for Saturday. Surprising many, Lisa Murkowski, the GOP senator from Alaska who has been meeting with assault survivors in recent days, voted no on the procedural motion. But Republican Senators Susan Collins and Jeff Flake voted yes, along with Democratic Senator Joe Manchin. Unless two of those three yes votes switch their positions before the final vote tomorrow, Kavanaugh's confirmation is secure.
Still, there's plenty of uncertainty about what will actually go down tomorrow, or even later today. At 3 p.m. on Friday, Collins, who represents Maine and is up for election in 2020, will announce how she intends to vote on Saturday—very possibly the deciding factor one way or the other. Senator Joe Manchin—a Democrat from West Virginia who earlier this week looked on as anti-Kavanaugh protesters occupied in his office to beg him to vote no, and were subsequently arrested—says he's still undecided, and may very likely side with whichever side appears to be coming out ahead. Jeff Flake, being Jeff Flake, has now said he will vote yes. So it appears that Susan Collins will decide how this goes.
BREAKING: Following dramatic cmte. move that led to FBI review, Sen. Flake says he plans to vote in favor of Judge Kavanaugh's confirmation to the US Supreme Court.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) October 5, 2018
Murkowski’s no leaves Collins and Flake, individually or together to decide Kavanaugh’s fate.
i don’t believe Manchin will cast tie-breaking vote
— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) October 5, 2018
Murkowski calls this “the most difficult evaluation” she’s had to make. “He’s not the right man for the court at this time,” she said. “So I have taken my vote here this morning. I’m going to go back to my office and write a floor statement that is more fulsome.”
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) October 5, 2018
Joe Manchin is going to be the 50th vote for confirmation, lose reelection, and become rich lobbying for the coal industry. You heard it here first!
— the democrats learned nothing from 2016 👻 (@isamuel) October 5, 2018
For their part, Democrats have spent much of the last 24 hours criticizing the FBI's handling of their investigation into Kavanaugh, arguing that the probe was too limited in scope, possibly at the direction of the White House. "From start to finish, President Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court will go down as one of the saddest, most sordid chapters in the long history of the federal judiciary," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in remarks made ahead of Friday's cloture vote.
"Faced with credible allegations of various types of misconduct, Judge Kavanaugh’s credibility was again tested, and he continued to dissemble and even prevaricate about easily-refuted facts," he continued. "Beyond the issue of credibility, Judge Kavanaugh presented to the Senate the bitterest partisan testimony I have ever heard from a candidate seeking the Senate’s approval."
Citing Kavanaugh's "temperament" during last week's hearing, the American Bar Association also announced on Friday that they would be re-opening an evaluation of Kavanaugh, after previously deeming him qualified to serve on the court.
And perhaps more important than condemnation from minority leaders or attorney associations, the anger of the American public continues to boil over. Thousands of protesters have poured into Capitol Hill in recent days, while those in New York have taken to the streets outside Trump Tower. Expect more demonstrations today and Saturday—and probably for a good while after that, too. We'll update with local protest info as that becomes available.
Kavanaugh protesters on their way to Trump Tower. I’ve seen a lot of protests in New York since Trump got elected. The anger feels very different today pic.twitter.com/MOQsOoH2pA
— Mara Gay (@MaraGay) October 4, 2018
UPDATE: Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine, the likely swing vote in Judge Kavanaugh's confirmation, indicated in a nearly hour-long speech on Friday that she will vote in favor of the controversial nominee. After emphasizing that she believed aspects of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's story, and that she is wholly supportive of the #MeToo movement, Collins added, "I do not believe that these charges can fairly prevent Judge Kavanaugh from serving on the court." Her support for the nominee, combined with Flake's announcement that he'll be voting yes, would seem to give Kavanaugh enough votes for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.
Here are some tweets.
it should be illegal to speak this slowly
— Ashley Feinberg (@ashleyfeinberg) October 5, 2018
sexual assault goes unreported because of, like, speeches like this, susan.
— Addy Baird 👽 (@addysue) October 5, 2018
Susan Collins is taking longer with this speech than the FBI spent investigating Kavanaugh
— Olivia Becker (@oliviaLbecker) October 5, 2018
— Anna Swartz (@Anna_Snackz) October 5, 2018
— Eliza Relman (@eliza_relman) October 5, 2018