WASHINGTON – Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), a moderate who's been known to part ways with her party on key hot-button issues, threw her support behind embattled Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh Friday afternoon, paving way for his confirmation.
Collins said the current confirmation process has reached a new low, comparing it to a "gutter-level political campaign." She then went on to shoot down every argument against Kavanaugh’s judicial style and beliefs, explaining why she’s voting for him despite the accusations he has faced.
URGENT: Susan Collins is a YES and that means that Brett Kavanaugh IS going to be the next U.S. Supreme Court Justice UNLESS Jeff Flake has another weak moment in an elevator before the final vote Saturday at 5pm. @SenatorCollins #SusanCollins @JeffFlake @CBNNews
— David Brody (@TheBrodyFile) October 5, 2018
Collins' announcement comes after the Senate voted 51-49 Friday morning to end debate on Kavanaugh's nomination following the latest FBI background investigation into the judge's behavior as a teenager. That sets up a final vote for Saturday, and several key swing votes are now revealing how they plan to vote.
Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) says he too will be voting in favor of Kavanaugh, barring any unforeseen developments.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) says she may not vote for Kavanaugh but that she hasn't made up her mind.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who earlier crossed the aisle to vote in favor of ending the debate about Kavanaugh, confirmed Friday that he will support Kavanaugh in the final Senate vote, calling him a "qualified jurist." However, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) has said she'll vote no. They're both facing tough reelection battles in states that voted for Trump.
Tensions have been running high on Capitol Hill. Police arrested more than 300 people Thursday for "unlawfully demonstrating" as senators were taking turns looking at the FBI report inside a secure room.
Although the report isn't expected to be made public, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took to the Senate floor to announce what he had hoped for all along.
"None of these allegations have been corroborated by the 7th and latest FBI investigation," he said.
However, critics, including former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, are now saying Kavanaugh's passionate defense before the Senate shows he doesn't have the right temperament to sit on the court.
In what amounts to a closing argument, Judge Kavanaugh penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal addressing those concerns.
"I might have been too emotional at times," he wrote. "I know that my tone was sharp, and I said a few things I should not have said. I hope everyone can understand that I was there as a son, husband, and dad."
Meanwhile, Democrats are lashing out at the White House, accusing the president of ordering an investigation that was too narrow and void of witnesses who wanted to talk.
"Democrats agreed that the investigation's scope should be limited. We did not agree that the White House should tie the FBI's hands," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) after the report was released.
Speaking to reporters outside the White House, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders pushed back.
"Anybody who pushes back on the fact that Doctor Ford wasn't given ample opportunity to make her case and state her case has been living in a cave," she said.
Meanwhile, at a campaign rally in Minnesota Thursday night, President Donald Trump pointed to new numbers that suggest the Democrats' rage against Kavanaugh is a political misfire.
"Their rage-fueled resistance is starting to backfire at a level that nobody has ever seen before," Trump told the fired-up crowd.
Just weeks before the midterms, a new NPR/PBS/Marist Poll shows enthusiasm among Democrats and Republicans in a statistical tie.
That's a huge boost for Republican voters who lagged 10 points behind Democrats before Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings.