The Latest: Biden hails Ford's 'courageous' testimony

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Posted: Sep 28, 2018 8:09 PM
The Latest: Biden hails Ford's 'courageous' testimony

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh (all times local):

8 p.m.

Former Vice President Joe Biden is praising senators for delaying further action on Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination until the FBI can investigate charges of sexual misconduct.

Biden says Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault, "gave courageous, credible and powerful testimony" before the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday. He says he believed Ford and "the country believed her."

He says Ford "deserves an FBI investigation today."

On the other hand, Biden is accusing committee Republicans of "invective, blind rage and brute partisanship that threatens not only the Senate and the Supreme Court — it threatens the basic faith in fairness and justice that binds this country together."

Kavanaugh has denied the allegations against him.

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6:25 p.m.

Senate Republicans have pushed Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination past a procedural hurdle, but a confirmation vote remains delayed for at least a week amid a new FBI investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced the move late Friday after a tumultuous day on Capitol Hill.

The leader says all 51 Republican senators supported the motion to proceed with Kavanaugh's nomination. But it was approved by voice, without a roll call to put senators on record.

In fact, GOP senators were slowing Kavanaugh's final confirmation for at least a week. President Donald Trump agreed with their request to launch a "supplemental" FBI investigation into the allegations.

McConnell calls Kavanaugh "most qualified and most impressive" and says, "This is a nomination that deserves to move forward."

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6 p.m.

U.S. Capitol Police have arrested 88 people for unlawfully demonstrating in Senate office buildings as they were protesting Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court.

Police say 81 people were arrested Friday morning outside a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting in the Dirksen office building. Seven more were arrested Friday afternoon in a separate protest at the Hart building.

All were charged with unlawfully crowding or obstructing, then processed and released.

Kavanaugh's nomination has sparked heated debate inside and outside the Capitol as the Senate considers allegations that he sexually assaulted an acquaintance while both were teenagers. Kavanaugh denies the allegation.

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5:30 p.m.

A lawyer for Christine Blasey Ford is praising the efforts of several senators who successfully pushed for a new FBI investigation of Ford's sexual assault claim against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Debra Katz says Ford "welcomes this step in the process" and appreciates the efforts of Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona and others. Senate Republican leaders agreed Friday to ask for the investigation and delay a final vote on Kavanaugh after Flake requested it. Flake is a crucial swing vote on the nomination.

President Donald Trump later ordered the investigation, saying it should be limited in scope and last no longer than a week. Katz says there should be no "artificial limits as to time or scope" on the investigation.

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5:25 p.m.

Alaska's junior U.S. senator missed Thursday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to undergo an emergency appendectomy.

Matt Shuckerow, a spokesman for Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan, says Sullivan was diagnosed with appendicitis and underwent the procedure early Thursday.

Shuckerow says Sullivan is recovering and "currently reviewing yesterday's hearing in its entirety."

He is not saying how long the senator will be recovering or unable to vote. Republicans are struggling to round up votes for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

The committee heard Thursday from Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault, and from Kavanaugh, who has denied the allegations.

Sullivan said early on he planned to support Kavanaugh. In a statement earlier this week, he said allegations of sexual assault should be taken seriously and both Ford and Kavanaugh deserve to be heard.

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5:10 p.m.

A Maryland police chief and prosecutor have informed a group of state lawmakers that they have not received any reports that would lead to the opening of a criminal investigation of the sexual assault allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger and State's Attorney John McCarthy responded Friday to a request earlier this week by 11 Democrats to investigate the allegations against Kavanaugh if his alleged victims support investigating.

Kavanaugh has denied Christine Blasey Ford's allegation that he assaulted her at a high school party in the 1980s.

The letter to the lawmakers notes that assault and attempted rape were misdemeanors with a one-year statute of limitations in 1982. But the officials stressed that both of their offices are prepared to investigate any sexual assault investigation "from any victim where the incident occurred in our jurisdiction."

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5:05 p.m.

President Donald Trump is directing the FBI to launch a supplemental investigation into his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh at the request of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Trump says in a statement that the updated investigation, which comes in response to sexual misconduct allegations, "must be limited in scope" and "completed in less than one week."

The decision marks a reversal for the administration, which had argued that Kavanaugh had already been vetted.

Kavanaugh has adamantly denied the allegations.

Senate Republican leaders agreed Friday to delay a final vote on Kavanaugh to allow time for an investigation by the FBI at the request of Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake.

Kavanaugh says he's done "everything" the Senate has asked of him and "will continue to cooperate."

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5 p.m.

Judge Brett Kavanaugh says in a statement released by the White House that he "will continue to cooperate" after senators asked President Donald Trump to open a supplemental background investigation of the embattled Supreme Court nominee.

Kavanaugh says he's been interviewed by the FBI during his confirmation process and conducted "background" calls with the Senate. He says he answered questions under oath Thursday "about every topic the Senators and their counsel asked me."

Kavanaugh says, "I've done everything they have requested and will continue to cooperate."

Trump is ordering the new FBI probe of Kavanaugh, saying it must be "limited in scope" and last no longer than a week.

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4:40 p.m.

Two Republican senators who could be the deciding votes on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh are endorsing a FBI background investigation into the sexual misconduct accusations against him.

Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska told reporters they support a deal reached among senators to delay a vote on Kavanaugh.

Collins says the deal "is an important development and I believe it will let us go forward."

Murkowski says she wants to make sure senators "do our due diligence."

President Donald Trump will have to ask the FBI for the investigation into Kavanaugh. The Senate Judiciary Committee said the probe should be limited to "current credible allegations against the nominee" and be finished by Oct. 5.

Kavanaugh denies the allegations.

Both Collins and Murkowski are undecided on whether to vote for Kavanaugh.

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4 p.m.

The Senate Judiciary Committee says it will ask President Donald Trump to open a supplemental background investigation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

In a statement, the committee says it will ask that the FBI's probe be limited to "current credible allegations against the nominee." It also says that investigation should be completed no later than Oct. 5.

Democrats for days have been demanding an FBI investigation into the sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh, but Republicans had refused to seek one. That changed Friday when Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona said a background investigation should be conducted before a final Senate vote on the nominee.

Only Trump can order the FBI to reopen the investigation.

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3:50 p.m.

Senate Republican leaders have agreed to delay a final vote on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh to allow time for an investigation by the FBI of the sexual misconduct allegations against him.

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Republican, says, "There's going to be a supplemental background investigation," which would delay a vote "no later than one week."

Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called earlier Friday for the FBI to investigate the sexual misconduct claims against Kavanaugh. He said the process should not take longer than a week.

After Flake made that call, the Judiciary Committee sent Kavanaugh's nomination to the full Senate in an 11-10 vote.

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3:15 p.m.

A high school friend of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh says he will cooperate with any law enforcement agency that will "confidentially investigate" sexual misconduct allegations against him and Kavanaugh.

Mark Judge sent a signed letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday, saying he "categorically" denies sexual misconduct allegations made by Julie Swetnick.

In a sworn statement released Wednesday, Swetnick accused Kavanaugh and Judge of excessive drinking and inappropriate treatment of women in the early 1980s, among other accusations.

Judge says in his letter that he doesn't know Swetnick and does not recall any parties in the early 1980s where he "fondled or grabbed women in an aggressive or unwanted manner."

He says Swetnick's allegations are "so bizarre" and he "would remember actions so outlandish."

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3:10 p.m.

One of the few Senate Democrats who remains undecided on Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court is backing calls for an FBI investigation of sexual misconduct claims against the nominee.

Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia said senators need to slow down on confirming Kavanaugh so the investigation can be conducted. The probe should happen, in his words, "so that our country can have confidence in the outcome of this vote."

He applauded the "courage" of Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, who on Friday urged a delay of up to one week on Kavanaugh's nomination to allow time for the FBI investigation.

Manchin is facing a tough re-election race this year in West Virginia, a state President Donald Trump won handily in the 2016 election.

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2:50 p.m.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is meeting with Republicans senators in his office to discuss the next steps on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced Kavanaugh's nomination to the full Senate Friday afternoon. GOP senators from the panel dashed to McConnell's office immediately after the vote.

Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, a member of the committee, has called for the FBI to investigate the sexual misconduct claims against Kavanaugh. Asked what he hoped to accomplish, Flake replied: "A better process."

Flake wants a delay of up to a week. The decision rests with Republican leaders.

Entering McConnell's office, Sen. John Kennedy called the developments a "grotesque carnival."

Kavanaugh denies the charges.

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2:35 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he found Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her in high school, "a very credible witness."

Trump told reporters Friday at the White House that he thought Ford's testimony Thursday to the Senate Judiciary Committee "was very compelling" and that "she looks like a very fine woman, very fine woman."

But Trump also says he though Kavanaugh's adamant denial "really something that I hadn't seen before. It was incredible."

Trump called it "an incredible moment I think in the history of our country."

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Friday to advance Kavanaugh's nomination to the Senate floor — but Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake said the full Senate vote should be delayed for a week.

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2:25 p.m.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham says it's going to fall to him to lay out to President Donald Trump why Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court confirmation vote has been delayed.

He spoke after Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake said he would vote to advance Kavanaugh's nomination to the full Senate only if the final confirmation vote is delayed for an FBI investigation into sexual assault allegations.

Christine Blasey Ford says Kavanaugh attacked her in a locked room at a high school house party. Kavanaugh denies that.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Friday to advance the nomination to the full Senate, but Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley noted the timing on Senate vote was up to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Graham, of South Carolina, is a Trump ally who is on the panel. Graham told reporters after the committee vote that somebody is going to have to explain the delay to Trump. Graham added: "I guess that'll be my job."

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2:18 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he'll leave it to the Senate to determine when it will vote on his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. But Trump is expressing optimism, saying: "I'm sure it will all be very good."

Trump told reporters Friday during a meeting with the President of Chile that undecided Republican senators "have to do what they think is right" and "be comfortable with themselves" on the Kavanaugh vote.

But he said he hadn't thought at all about a replacement, "Not even a little bit."

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Friday along party lines to advance Kavanaugh's nomination to the Senate floor.

But Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona said at the last minute that he could not promise to vote for Kavanaugh on the Senate floor and called for a delay of up to a week for a further investigation of sexual assault accusations.

Kavanaugh has denied the allegations.

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2:10 p.m.

Sen Jeff Flake says Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination should on hold so the FBI can investigate the sexual misconduct allegations against him.

Flake, the deciding vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee, voted to advance Kavanaugh's nomination to a full floor vote, but said the vote should be delayed for up to a week to allow time for the investigation of Christine Blasey Ford's claims.

Ford says Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her while the two were in high school.

Kavanaugh has denied Ford's accusation.

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2 p.m.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has voted along party lines to advance Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination to the Senate floor.

The 11-10 vote Friday came just one day after Republicans heard testimony from Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teens. Kavanaugh denied the accusation.

At the last minute, Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, said he could not promise to vote for Kavanaugh on the Senate floor and called for a delay of up to a week for a further investigation.

Republicans voted to move ahead with Kavanaugh's nomination.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley noted the timing on Senate vote was up to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

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1:40 p.m.

The Senate Judiciary Committee was supposed to be voting at 1:30 p.m. Friday on whether to recommend Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation, but something is afoot.

Behind-the-scenes negotiations have delayed the committee vote on Kavanaugh's nomination.

It wasn't clear what was being discussed. Republicans believed they had to votes to advance Kavanaugh out of the committee when Sen. Jeff Flake announced his support earlier Friday.

But senators seated in the hearing room are talking among themselves -- and Flake is not seated. Some senators have stepped out of the room.

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1:10 p.m.

Senate Republicans do not yet have the votes to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. That's according to Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the third-ranking member of Republican leadership.

Thune said that Republicans still have "a little work to do" to get enough support.

Whether Kavanaugh is confirmed to the Supreme Court could hinge on the votes of two Republican senators: Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. It does not appear that President Donald Trump or the White House is reaching out to them to try and influence their decision.

Thune said while such calls may be well-intended, "it's better to let people decide on their own up here."

Republicans have set a committee vote for Friday afternoon to send Kavanaugh's nomination to the full Senate.

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1:10 p.m.

Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota says "there are a lot of lawyers in America who can sit on the court" and Brett Kavanaugh isn't the only person who can do the job.

Heitkamp said Friday she hasn't decided whether to support Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court. But her remarks to the AP suggest she may vote no.

Heitkamp is facing a tough re-election this year in a Republican-leaning state. Her decision on Kavanaugh is being closely watched.

She said she found testimony from both Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who accused him of sexual assault, "compelling" but "this is not a criminal case."

Heitkamp says appointees "don't all have to come from Harvard and Yale and they don't all have to come from prep schools

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12:40 p.m.

Montana Sen. Jon Tester says he will join other Democrats in voting against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Tester is up for re-election this year in his deeply Republican home state. But he said he has concerns about Kavanaugh's positions on privacy issues, campaign finance and about a California professor's claim that he sexually assaulted her when both were teenagers. Kavanaugh denied Christine Blasey Ford's allegations in a hearing Thursday.

Tester said he has requested a meeting with Kavanaugh "numerous times" but the White House wouldn't commit.

The Montana senator said his office had received "thousands of calls and emails from Montanans" about Kavanaugh, a majority of which were opposed to his confirmation.

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12:30 p.m.

The dean of Yale Law School is calling for additional investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against Brett Kavanaugh before the Senate votes on his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Dean Heather Gerken said in statement Friday that she agrees with the American Bar Association that more investigation is needed. Gerken said proceeding with the confirmation process without more review is not in the best interest of the Supreme Court or the legal profession.

Kavanaugh received his undergraduate and law degrees from Yale.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on Kavanaugh's nomination Friday afternoon. A vote in favor will send the nomination to the full Senate.

Kavanaugh denies allegations by Christine Blasey Ford that he assaulted her when they were in high school. Kavanaugh says he's never sexually assaulted anyone.

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11:50 a.m.

Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly says he'll vote against the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Donnelly is a moderate Democrat who voted for President Donald Trump's first nominee to the high court, Neil Gorsuch (GOR'-suhch).

Donnelly is up for re-election this year in Indiana, which is a strongly Republican state.

His decision comes after a hearing Thursday when a California professor testified that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in high school when they were teenagers. Kavanaugh also testified and denied Christine Blasey Ford's allegations.

Donnelly says Ford's allegations are "disturbing and credible" and should be investigated by the FBI, which Trump and Senate Republicans say isn't needed.

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11:45 a.m.

Anita Hill says one of the things that stood out to her from Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's testimony was how emotional and angry it was compared with the "calm" words coming from the woman accusing him of sexual assault when they were teenagers.

Kavanaugh denies the accusation.

Hill gave Senate testimony in 1991 about her allegations of sexual harassment by then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.

Hill — speaking Friday in Houston — says Kavanaugh "was able to express a real anger, an aggression, as well as a lot of emotion."

She said no woman nomination to the high court "would ever have the license to express (herself) in that way."

Hill says she was impressed with the calm and careful testimony of Kavanaugh's accuser, Christine Blasey Ford.

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11:40 a.m.

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas says it is "cruel" and "indecent" for Democrats to seek public testimony from Mark Judge, a high school friend of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Judge has told the committee in a signed statement that he doesn't recall the events described by Christine Blasey (BLAH'-zee) Ford.

She accuses Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teens. Kavanaugh denies the accusation.

Ford has told senators that Judge was in the room during the alleged assault. Democrats have asked for the committee to subpoena Judge, but Republicans have voted down the request.

Cornyn says Judge admits to being a recovering alcoholic and is a cancer survivor. Cornyn says Democrats are ignoring that and seeking to "drag Mr. Judge into this circus-like atmosphere" and subject his battles with addition to public ridicule.

In Cornyn's words: "That is cruel. That is reckless. That is indecent."

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11:10 a.m.

CNN cameras caught an extraordinary scene of Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake being confronted by two protesters as he waited in an elevator to take him to the Senate Judiciary Committee meeting.

Moments earlier, Flake had announced he'd vote to confirm Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Flake stood looking downcast as one of the women said to Flake: "Tell me, I'm standing right here in front of you, do you think he's telling the truth to the country?"

The senator listened for nearly two minutes until the elevator door closed. He told the women he had put out a statement and would have more to say before the committee.

CNN's Jim Scutto said: "I don't think we've witnessed a moment like that in recent memory."

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10:50 a.m.

"Feels like Alice in Wonderland."

That's what a top Democrat says about the Senate Judiciary Committee in moving forward with Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court.

Vermont's Patrick Leahy is denouncing the way that majority Republicans have handled Kavanaugh's nomination. Leahy says the committee has lost its independence and become, in his words, "an arm, and a very weak arm, of the Trump White House."

The committee has set a vote for later Friday on whether to recommend the nomination to the full Senate.

Leahy says Kavanaugh has been "credibly accused of sexual assault" and the committee has failed to conduct a meaningful investigation.

Christine Blasey Ford testified Thursday that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were teens. Kavanaugh says the accusation is "categorically" false.

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10:30 a.m.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (FYN'-styn) says the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh is "a real test" for the Senate and the nation "to see how we treat women, especially women who are survivors of sexual assault."

The top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee says that 27 years after the Clarence Thomas hearings, Republicans appear to have a new strategy for handling sexual assault allegations.

She says, "The Republican strategy is no longer 'attack the victim.' It is to ignore the victim."

Feinstein says she's disappointed the committee is set to vote on Kavanaugh's nomination less than a day after emotional testimony by Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who accuses Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when both were teenagers. He denies the allegation.

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10:25 a.m.

The wife of Justice Clarence Thomas is praising Sen. Lindsey Graham for his criticism of Senate Democrats for their treatment of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Ginni Thomas says on her Facebook page "Thank you, Senator Graham, for speaking for so many of us!"

Thomas included a link to video from Graham's fiery comments Thursday when he called the Democrats' actions the "most despicable thing" he has seen in politics.

The link says Graham "exposes Democrat Kavanaugh sham."

Ginni Thomas is a conservative activist who once worked for congressional Republicans. She made headlines in 2010 when she called Anita Hill and asked Hill to apologize for making sexual harassment allegations about Clarence Thomas after he had been nominated to the Supreme Court.

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10:15 a.m.

Several Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee have walked out of a hearing on Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court.

Kamala Harris of California, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island left after the GOP chairman set a vote on the nomination for 1:30 p.m. Friday.

That was approved by a committee vote. Democrats say Republicans are rushing the confirmation.

During that vote, Hirono yelled: "''I strongly object! What a railroad job! No, no, NO."

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10:05 a.m.

Republicans have blocked Democratic efforts to subpoena a high school friend of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh who's been described as a witness to an alleged assault involving Kavanaugh about three decades ago.

The Senate Judiciary Committee's vote to subpoena Mark Judge has been defeated in a party-line vote, with all 11 Republicans on the panel voting against the motion and all 10 Democrats voting for it.

Democrats say Judge has never been interviewed by the FBI or questioned by a member of the committee, and that committee has a responsibility to subpoena Judge before it votes on whether to recommend Kavanaugh to the full Senate.

Kavanaugh denies the allegation.

The committee chairman, Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley, has read a statement from Judge that says he doesn't recall the events described by Kavanaugh's accuser and "never saw Brett act" in the way that he's accused of.

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10 a.m.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to vote at 1:30 p.m. on whether to recommend Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the full Senate.

The chairman, Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley, announced the vote as the committee began its meeting.

Kavanaugh has just picked up a key vote of support from a committee Republican, Arizona's Jeff Flake.

Republicans have slim 11-10 majority on the committee. With Flake's support, Kavanaugh's nomination is expected to clear the committee and go to the full Senate.

The Senate could begin taking procedural votes over the weekend ahead of a final confirmation vote early next week.

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9:55 a.m.

Emotions in the Capitol are running high over the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.

Soon after Republican Sen. Jeff Flake announced he'd vote to confirm Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, he was cornered by two women as he got into an elevator to head to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Through tears, the women implored him to change his mind about his Kavanaugh vote.

The women were seen in TV footage blocking the Arizona senator from closing the elevator door. One woman begged Flake to look him in the eye. She said: "Look at me and tell me that it doesn't matter what happened to me."

Another woman said Flake was allowing someone who "violated someone" to serve on the Supreme Court. Both women cried as they spoke to him.

Eventually a member of Flake's staff said they needed to go and the doors closed. A committee confirmation vote is set for 1:30 p.m.

Kavanaugh has denied that he sexually assaulted a woman when they were teenagers. The committee on Thursday heard emotional and sometimes combative testimony from both Kavanaugh and his accuser.

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9:40 a.m.

It'll be a "yes" vote on Brett Kavanaugh from one of the most closely watched Republican senators who's determining the fate of the Supreme Court nominee.

The announcement from Arizona's Jeff Flake that he'll vote to confirm Kavanaugh virtually ensures that the nomination will advance to the full Senate from the Judiciary Committee.

The committee is expected to vote Friday — and if the nomination advances to the full Senate, then senators could begin voting as early as Saturday.

Flake says he wishes he could express the confidence in Kavanaugh that some of his other GOP colleagues have. But Flakes says in a statement he still has "much doubt" after the committee's explosive hearing Thursday.

Kavanaugh has denied Christine Blasey Ford's allegation that he sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers.

Flake says that without evidence to corroborate Ford's story, he believes "our system of justice affords a presumption of innocence."

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9:10 a.m.

A Democratic senator who's facing a tough re-election race has come out against President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh.

Bill Nelson of Florida tweets that he'll vote "no" if the nomination comes to the full Senate. The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to vote on Kavanaugh on Friday.

Nelson's decision comes a day after Kavanaugh told the committee that he didn't sexually assault a woman when they were teenagers. The accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, says she's "100 percent" certain that he did.

Nelson hadn't taken a public position on the nomination before his announcement Friday. Nelson had never met with Kavanaugh even though his office said they tried several times to schedule a meeting.

The senator is in a tight re-election race with Florida's Republican governor, Rick Scott, who has previously come out in support of Kavanaugh. Scott's campaign hasn't responded to questions about Ford's testimony.

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8:45 a.m.

Former President George W. Bush has been advocating for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh with wavering senators in recent days. That's according to a person familiar with the outreach who wasn't authorized to discuss the development publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Kavanaugh is a former top aide in Bush's administration.

Bush has reached out to Republicans Jeff Flake of Arizona and Susan Collins of Maine. Bush spoke earlier this month to Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia in a call the senator's office says Manchin initiated.

—Associated Press writer Catherine Lucey.

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8:05 a.m.

The White House is pushing back against a call from the American Bar Association to slow the vote on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh until the FBI can do a full background check.

Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Friday that Kavanaugh has already "been through six separate background investigations by the FBI."

Kavanaugh testified Thursday to the Senate Judiciary Committee over an allegation of sexual assault when he was in high school. His accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, also appeared before the committee during the emotionally charged day.

Sanders stressed Trump's support for Kavanaugh and said he wanted to see a vote. She said Trump thought Kavanaugh's testimony was "powerful, it was riveting and it was honest."

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1:30 a.m.

The American Bar Association has urged the Senate Judiciary Committee and the full Senate to slow down on the vote on Brett Kavanaugh for a position on the Supreme Court until the FBI has time to do a full background check on claims of sexual assault made by Christine Blasey (blah-zee) Ford and other women.

"We make this request because of the ABA's respect for the rule of law and due process under law," the ABA letter to committee leadership said. "Each appointment to our nation's highest court (as with all others) is simply too important to rush to a vote."

The Judiciary committee plans a vote on Kavanaugh Friday.

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12:35 a.m.

Senate Republicans are plowing forward with a committee vote Friday on Brett Kavanaugh's nomination. Voting at the Senate Judiciary Committee comes after an extraordinary and highly emotional hearing over Christine Blasey Ford's allegations that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were teens. The marathon session appears to have only deepened the partisan divide.

The Judiciary committee is narrowly split with the slimmest Republican majority. And Democrats are expected to oppose President Donald Trump's nominee.

But even if the panel deadlocks over recommending Kavanaugh, the nomination can push forward. The full Senate may start taking procedural votes as soon as Saturday toward confirmation next week.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the committee's going to vote Friday and "move forward."