WASHINGTON – The FBI has officially concluded its investigation into allegations of sexual assault and misconduct against Judge Brett Kavanaugh, and so far the impact of the FBI report appears to be positive for the nominee.
The report is being closely guarded with each senator being given one hour to review it in a secure room.
Senate Democrats are blasting the Kavanaugh report, calling it incomplete and saying the agency may have been constrained by White House.
But key Senate swing voter Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) says it appears to have been a very thorough report. And Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who forced Republican leaders to authorize the renewed FBI investigation, has reportedly said the report reveals "no additional corroborating information."
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) says the FBI report "found no hint of misconduct" by the Supreme Court nominee.
The countdown to the crucial Senate vote is on after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced the vote to confirm Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court will proceed.
Democrat senators are not satisfied that the investigation was thorough enough. They're complaining loudly that the FBI didn't interview Kavanaugh's accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. They used her Senate testimony instead. Still, the White House reportedly doesn't believe the FBI probe supports the sexual misconduct claims against Kavanaugh.
Meanwhile, tension mounts on Capitol Hill where police have stepped up security and are now having to escort some lawmakers because many senators – especially Republicans – have been concerned about protesters.
"You guys do, like, invade my comfort zone. It's intense!" Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) told some protesters.
On Wednesday, police arrested a Democratic intern accused of posting the personal information – home addresses and phone numbers – of three Republican senators. That exposure of private information took place during the Kavanaugh hearings.
The decision to confirm Judge Kavanaugh comes down to a handful of senators who could vote either way: Republicans Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins. and Jeff Flake; and Democrats Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND).
All of them condemned comments the president made about Dr. Ford's testimony against Kavanaugh at a political rally in Mississippi Tuesday night.
"How did you get home? I don't remember. How'd you get there? I don't remember. Where's the place? I don't remember," Trump said in what some critics are calling a mocking account of Ford's testimony.
Sen. Collins responded to the incident, saying, "The president's comments were just plain wrong."
Another swing vote, Sen. Flake, said, "To discuss something this sensitive at a political rally is just not right, is just not right. I wish he hadn't of done it. I just say it's kind of appalling."
Even the president's close ally, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), said he would tell him to "knock it off," though he was quick to defend Kavanaugh.
"I don't like what the president said last night. I'm the first person to say I wanted to hear from Dr. Ford. I thought she was handled respectfully. I think Kavanaugh was treated like crap. (audience boos) Yeah, well boo yourselves."
The president's comments may not have any impact on the swing senators' votes. For Manchin and Heitkamp, the upcoming midterms play the biggest role. They're facing tough reelection battles, and voters in their states support Kavanaugh. But the two swing Democrats may wait to see which way the three moderate Republicans go.
The Senate vote to confirm Kavanaugh is expected to come as soon as this weekend.