WASHINGTON ― Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s fate is in the hands of two key senators after a procedural vote Friday.
Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) are the two remaining undecided votes. If either votes yes on Kavanaugh Saturday, he will have enough votes to be confirmed to the Supreme Court.
Both are expected to announce their intended votes on Friday.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who voted no in a procedural vote Friday morning, has indicated she will not support Kavanaugh in the final vote. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) has said he will likely support the judge.
Kavanaugh cleared the “cloture” vote to end debate on his nomination and move toward a final Senate vote.
President Donald Trump said after the procedural vote that he was “very proud.”
Since Christine Blasey Ford came forward last month to accuse Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were high school students in the 1980s, the nomination has effectively become a referendum on whether senators believe Ford or Kavanaugh. He has denied her allegations, as well as allegations of sexual misconduct from two other women.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said before the vote that its outcome could validate “media bullying and mob intimidation” if Kavanaugh went down.
“We will either give notice that totally uncorroborated allegations are now, officially, enough to destroy an American’s life,” McConnell said. “Or we will declare that our society cannot, must not, will not, set the bar so low.”
Ford testified about her memory of the assault last week and, because of a last-minute request by Flake, Republicans postponed Senate votes to give the Federal Bureau of Investigation more time to investigate Ford’s claim. The FBI wrapped up its investigation late Wednesday, prompting Democrats to complain that the bureau hadn’t interviewed enough people with relevant information, such as Ford’s friends she’d previously told about the assault.
“I think I’ve made my case as best I could,” said Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), who teamed up with Flake to make the FBI probe happen. “The materials are what they are, and it is now left to senators to reach their conclusions. I do not think we’ve done as thorough and fulsome a job of assessing the facts and the allegations as we should have.”
Because of the terms of a 2009 agreement between the Obama White House and the Senate Judiciary Committee, only senators and a limited number of staffers were allowed to see the FBI’s report. They weren’t allowed to disclose any of its contents.
Almost all Republicans argued that the FBI report provided “no corroboration” of Ford’s claims, but at least one Democratic senator, Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), disputed that.
Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) said he wished everyone could read the report. “There are things in here that really make me angry.”
Paige Lavender contributed to this report.
This article has been updated as senators have announced their voting plans.