The Latest: McConnell takes key step toward Kavanaugh vote
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and sexual misconduct allegations against him (all times local):
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has taken a key procedural step to begin voting on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
The Republican leader filed a motion setting up a Friday vote on whether to limit debate on Kavanaugh and move forward.
A simple majority of 51 votes will be needed for Kavanaugh’s nomination to advance. A final vote could come Saturday.
Senators delayed a vote on Kavanaugh so the FBI could conduct a background investigation into the allegations of sexual misconduct against him. Kavanaugh denies the allegations. The Senate Judiciary Committee expected to receive the report from the FBI Wednesday evening.
A handful of Republicans and Democrats have not decided whether to support Kavanaugh. Their votes will likely decide whether he is confirmed.
All 100 senators, and a handful of Senate staff, will be able to read the FBI’s new report on sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh once it’s sent to Congress. But it’s unclear if the public will see it.
Background checks are routine in a nominee’s vetting process and are generally delivered to the Senate without much fanfare. This background check is different, requested by a trio of senators who are undecided on Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
It’s expected that many senators will want to read or be briefed on the supplemental background check, which the Senate is expected to receive no later than Thursday.
To guard the sensitive information, the FBI’s report is expected to be held in a secure room normally reserved only for classified matters.
Hundreds of law professors have signed onto a letter urging the Senate to reject Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court.
The letter was shared in a New York Times op-ed and signed by more than 650 law professors. The letter will be sent to the Senate on Thursday.
The letter says that in his hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, Kavanaugh “displayed a lack of judicial temperament that would be disqualifying for any court, and certainly for election to the highest court of the land.”
The letter also says Kavanaugh gave “intemperate, inflammatory” responses and was “discourteous” to senators.
Kavanaugh is accused of sexually assaulting a woman decades ago when the two were in high school. He has steadfastly denied it.
A massive coalition of U.S. Christian churches attended by 40 million people wants Brett Kavanaugh to withdraw his Supreme Court nomination.
The National Council of Churches says the conservative jurist has “disqualified himself.” The group says in a statement that at last week’s dramatic Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, he showed “extreme partisan bias,” demonstrating he lacks the temperament to join the high court.
The group says Kavanaugh told “outright falsehoods.” And it is criticizing his judicial record on voting rights, health care and other issues on which the group has taken liberal-leaning positions.
Kavanaugh is a Roman Catholic who has said religion is an important part of his life. The council does not represent Roman Catholics.
Three women have accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct during the 1980s. Kavanaugh has denied the claims.
Senate Democrats are disputing Republicans’ suggestion that there’s been no “whiff” of any inappropriate sexual behavior or alcohol abuse in Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s previous background checks.
Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee tweeted that Kavanaugh’s six earlier background checks found no such issues.
But Democrats in a letter Wednesday to Chairman Chuck Grassley said information in the GOP’s social media posting “is not accurate.”
The letter from Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin noted that, because the background checks are confidential, the Democrats are limited in what they can say publicly about them.
The FBI is expected to give the Senate a supplemental background report on Kavanaugh later Wednesday. Democrats want a briefing from the FBI about the investigation, but Republicans declined that request.
Christine Blasey Ford’s lawyers say they’ll turn over notes from her therapy sessions and any recordings of her taking a lie detector test to the FBI, if the bureau agrees to interview her.
Ford’s attorneys, Debra Katz and Lisa Banks, said Wednesday they haven’t heard back from the FBI about scheduling an interview about Ford’s claim that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her decades ago.
The response came a day after Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley accused the attorneys of “withholding material evidence.”
The senator said he is requesting the recordings because the committee has obtained a letter that “raises specific concerns” about the reliability of Ford’s polygraph test.
A man identifying himself as Ford’s former boyfriend said in the letter he saw Ford coach a friend on how to be less nervous during a polygraph examination.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is declining Democrats’ request for a briefing by FBI agents on the investigation into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
McConnell said in a letter Wednesday to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer that he believes Democrats would only use such a briefing to delay Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
The GOP leader also said a briefing by FBI agents would be “unprecedented and irregular” and not in keeping with previous practice.
The FBI is expected to soon provide senators with the results of its investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct by Kavanaugh when he was in high school and college. Kavanaugh has denied the claims.
The FBI’s files are confidential. Only senators and authorized staff will be able to read them.
Republican senators expect to receive the results of a new FBI background investigation into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as soon as Wednesday afternoon.
The second-ranking Senate Republican, Sen. John Cornyn, says he hopes “we’ll see it soon, perhaps as early as today.”
Republican Sen. Bob Corker cautioned that the timing was not certain. He says delivery of the final FBI report could be pushed to Thursday.
Once the FBI files are delivered, senators are expected to view them in a secure facility.
The senators say Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is expected later Wednesday to file cloture on Kavanaugh’s nomination. That would set up a key procedural vote on Friday.
A handful of Republicans and Democrats are undecided on Kavanaugh. Their votes will likely decide whether he is confirmed.
Sen. Dick Durbin says there are “quite a few” people coming forward to tell the FBI what they know about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, but he’s concerned they are not being heard.
The No. 2 Senate Democrat told The Associated Press that he understands the FBI might be overwhelmed in its investigation. But the Illinois senator said Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is “hell bent” on confirming Kavanaugh with votes this week.
Durbin said in the AP interview that he’s heard from “a lot of colleagues” who know people who want to speak to investigators about Kavanaugh. But they’re frustrated the calls are not being taken, he said.
The FBI is investigating existing allegations of sexual misconduct by Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh has denied the accusations. Senators expect to receive the FBI’s report soon.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders is defending President Donald Trump’s decision to go after the woman who has claimed she was sexually assaulted by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Sanders told reporters Wednesday at a rare White House briefing that: “The president was stating the facts” at a Mississippi rally Tuesday night.
Sanders is also blasting Democrats, accusing them of launching a “full scale assault on” Kavanaugh’s integrity. She’s calling it “a coordinated smear campaign.”
Three wavering Republican senators have lambasted Trump for going after Christine Blasey Ford. Just last week, Trump had described her testimony as “very credible.”
The FBI is conducting a revived background check into Ford’s accusation, which Kavanaugh denies.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said the chamber will vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination later this week.
Some senators are using police escorts on Capitol Hill as protesters seek to confront them over Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell opened the Senate on Wednesday saying senators would not be intimidated from doing their jobs. He says the vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation will be this week.
But GOP senators are expressing unease over protesters confronting them at their Senate offices, and at restaurants and airports. Republicans discussed security matters behind closed doors earlier this week at a private lunch.
Kavanaugh denies the allegations of sexual misconduct, including Christine Blasey Ford’s accusation that he assaulted her in high school.
Last week women confronted Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona in an elevator. The exchange weighed on him, he said, as he forced Republicans to delay voting for further investigation.
Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy is brushing off remarks from President Donald Trump that raised questions about the Democrat’s drinking habits. Trump slammed Leahy at a rally Tuesday night in a bid to turn the tables on Democrats who have gone after Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s beer drinking.
Trump told a crowd in Mississippi they should do an online search for “Patrick Leahy slash drink.”
Leahy, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Wednesday that he “must be doing something right” to draw fire from Trump. “By now just about everyone who stands up to this president has been targeted for his bogus attacks and smears,” Leahy said.
He said Trump’s “shameful mocking of a sexual assault victim is by far the biggest outrage.”
Trump mocked Kavanaugh’s chief accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her. Kavanaugh denies the allegations.
A third Republican senator wavering on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is criticizing President Donald Trump’s mocking of a woman who accuses Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her in the 1980s.
Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski says Trump’s remarks about accuser Christine Blasey (BLAH’-zee) Ford were “wholly inappropriate” and “unacceptable.”
The president on Tuesday mimicked Ford’s responses to questions at a Senate hearing last week when she described her allegations about Kavanaugh, who denies assaulting anyone.
Maine Sen. Susan Collins says Trump’s comments were “just plain wrong.” Arizona’s Jeff Flake tells NBC’s “Today” show Trump’s remarks were “kind of appalling.”
GOP leaders say an FBI report on Kavanaugh will be completed soon. They plan a Senate vote on him this week.
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway is defending Trump.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley is calling for an end to “personal attacks & destruction” targeting Christine Blasey (BLAH’-zee) Ford, the California college professor who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers.
The Iowa Republican senator also calls for an end to personal attacks on Kavanaugh.
Grassley’s tweet comes after President Donald Trump mocked Ford at a political rally in Mississippi on Tuesday evening.
Grassley tweets he has a “long history” of respecting people with courage to step forward. He says his committee gave Ford “serious consideration” as soon as he learned about her.
Grassley says people can decide who to believe but he pleads with them to “stop personal attacks” of Ford, Kavanaugh and their families.
Kavanaugh has denied Ford’s accusation.
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway is defending President Donald Trump after he mocked a woman who has accused his Supreme Court nominee of sexual assault.
Conway told reporters at the White House Wednesday that Christine Blasey Ford has “been treated like a Fabergé egg by all of us, beginning with me and the president.” She said Trump was “pointing out factual inconsistencies.”
The president, at a rally in Mississippi Tuesday night, mimicked Ford’s responses to questions at a Senate hearing last week when she described her allegations about nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh has denied the allegations.
Conway argued that “those who pretend they are searching for truth are already voting against him.” She also said Democratic senators running for re-election in states Trump carried in 2016 should know that their voters “want him to be confirmed.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer says President Donald Trump has reached a “new low” with his “outright mockery” of Brett Kavanaugh’s chief accuser, Christine Blasey Ford.
The Democratic leader said Wednesday in a floor speech that Trump should apologize for mocking Ford at a rally Tuesday night in Mississippi. The president made fun of Ford’s inability to remember some details about the night she says she was assaulted by Kavanaugh.
Schumer said even those who doubt Ford’s allegations can refrain from the “nasty, vicious attacks.” He said Trump is “degrading” the way people are treating one another and doing “permanent damage” to the country with his comments.
Ford told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Kavanaugh groped her in a bedroom at a high school party and tried to undress her. Kavanaugh denied the accusation.
Democratic Sen. Kirstin Gillibrand says President Donald Trump’s comments about Brett Kavanaugh’s chief accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, are “disgraceful.”
The New York senator told reporters Wednesday that Trump’s remarks at a Mississippi campaign rally show “he has no empathy for survivors of sexual violence.”
Trump mocked Ford’s inability to remember specific aspects of the incident in which she alleges Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her 35 years ago. Kavanaugh has denied the allegations.
Gillibrand, a potential presidential candidate in 2020, said she has turned over to the FBI information Wednesday from a constituent who wanted to testify about Kavanaugh’s behavior.
The FBI is conducting a background investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh. Republicans plan to move to a vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination once the report is received.
Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon is asking a federal judge to step in and order the release of more than 100,000 documents related to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
The motion is part of a long-shot lawsuit Merkley recently filed in federal court. He is requesting that records from Kavanaugh’s time in the George W. Bush White House be produced by the Trump administration before the Senate votes on Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
The Trump administration cited executive privilege in withholding about 100,000 pages of documents from Kavanaugh’s work as legal counsel. The administration said internal White House deliberations need to remain secret.
But Merkley says the Senate cannot fulfill its constitutional duty to provide advice and consent on the Supreme Court nominee without seeing Kavanaugh’s full record.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the “far left” is trying to “bully” Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh with a “mudslide” of sexual misconduct allegations.
McConnell in a floor speech Wednesday says the Senate will vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination this week. He says senators will not be intimidated by the protesters opposed to Kavanaugh who have been confronting them in the hallways of the Capitol, at airports and at their homes.
McConnell says “there’s no chance in the world they’re going to scare us out of doing our duty.”
The FBI is nearing completion of its expanded investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanagh. Once the Senate receives the FBI’s report, Republicans are expected to move toward a vote.
A handful of senators are undecided on Kavanaugh. Their votes will likely decide whether he is confirmed.
The FBI has finished an interview with Chris Garrett, a high school friend of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Garrett’s lawyer, William Sullivan, says Garrett has voluntarily cooperated with the FBI’s reopened background check of Kavanaugh and has finished his interview.
He declined to comment further.
Garrett is at least the fifth person known to have been interviewed by the FBI since last Friday, when the White House directed the FBI to look into allegations of sexual misconduct dating back to Kavanaugh’s high school and college years.
Other people questioned include people who were said to have been present at a high school party where California professor Christine Blasey Ford says she was assaulted as a teenager in the early 1980s. Kavanaugh denies the allegations.
A second Republican senator wavering on Brett Kavanaugh is criticizing President Donald Trump’s mocking of a woman who’s accused the Supreme Court nominee of sexually attacking her in the 1980s.
Susan Collins of Maine tells reporters that Trump’s remarks about Christine Blasey (BLAH’-zee) Ford were “just plain wrong.”
The president, at a rally in Mississippi on Tuesday night, mimicked Ford’s responses to questions at a Senate hearing last week when she described her allegations about Kavanaugh.
Another undecided GOP senator also has criticized Trump. Arizona’s Jeff Flake tells NBC’s “Today” show that Trump’s remarks were “kind of appalling.”
GOP leaders say an FBI report on Kavanaugh will be completed soon. They plan a Senate vote on him later this week. It is unclear whether he will be confirmed.
Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake says President Donald Trump’s mocking of Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, was “not right” and “kind of appalling.”
But Flake isn’t saying whether he’ll vote to confirm Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Ford alleges Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were in high school. He denies the accusation.
Trump mocked Ford at a rally in Mississippi on Tuesday night, listing what he described as holes in her account as his audience laughed.
Flake told NBC’s “Today” show Wednesday that mocking “something this sensitive at a political rally is just not right.” Flake added, “I wish he hadn’t done it. It’s kind of appalling.”
Flake, who is retiring from the Senate, said last week he would vote to confirm Kavanaugh, but then called for an expanded FBI investigation of the accusations, delaying the confirmation timetable. Flake said Wednesday he’d be concerned if the FBI only followed up on a few leads.
The FBI investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is being questioned by lawyers for two of his accusers.
Attorneys for the woman who says she was sexually assaulted by Kavanaugh at a party when they were teenagers, Christine Blasey Ford, are asking the FBI why its agents haven’t contacted her.
A lawyer for the woman who says Kavanaugh exposed himself to her during a college party, Deborah Ramirez, says he’s seen no indication that the FBI has reached out to any of the 20 people who Ramirez says may be able to corroborate her account.
In Congress, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he is certain that the FBI’s report will be finished and the Senate will vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination this week.
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