Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s second nominee to the Supreme Court, was confirmed to the court on Saturday with a Senate vote largely divided along party lines, 50-48. The vote occurred shortly before 4 p.m.
The confirmation process has been bitterly partisan, and disputes were exacerbated by allegations of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh that began surfacing in September. In response to the allegations, the Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony from Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who alleges Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were in high school. Kavanaugh denies the allegation, while she has stood by her testimony.
The committee paused the nomination process for a week so the FBI could investigate. Afterwards, Republicans declared that the FBI had not found any corroborating witnesses, while Democrats complained the FBI didn’t look hard or long enough.
Republican Sen. Steve Daines of Montana was not present at the vote because he was attending his daughter’s wedding. Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who broke with her party on Friday and voted against advancing Kavanaugh’s nomination, voted “present.”
Trump: “I thought I had to even the playing field”
Mr. Trump told Jeanine Pirro on Fox News that he mocked Dr. Christine Blasey Ford at a Mississippi rally earlier this week because he felt he needed to “even the playing field.”
“There were a lot of things happening that weren’t correct, they weren’t true, there were a lot of things that were left unsaid,” Mr. Trump said. “And I thought I had to even the playing field. It was very unfair to Judge — and now I can very nicely say — Justice Kavanaugh. It was a very unfair situation. Once I did that, he started to sail through.”
Trump calls into Jeanine Pirro on Fox News
After speaking at a rally in Topeka, Kansas, Mr. Trump called into Jeanine Pirro’s Fox News show. He said he was “shocked” by Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s vote against Kavanaugh, and said it was a “very sad day” for her.
Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins, on the other hand, Mr. Trump said, is a “star” and “more popular than ever.”
Kavanaugh sworn in
Kavanaugh was sworn in to the Supreme Court across the street from the Capitol, where protesters chanted outside.
Trump announces Kavanaugh will be sworn in Saturday
Mr. Trump tweeted shortly after Kavanaugh was confirmed that the new member of the Supreme Court would be sworn in Saturday evening.
“I applaud and congratulate the U.S. Senate for confirming our GREAT NOMINEE, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, to the United States Supreme Court. Later today, I will sign his Commission of Appointment, and he will be officially sworn in. Very exciting!” Mr. Trump wrote.
Kavanaugh is confirmed
The Senate voted to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court Saturday afternoon. The final vote fell mostly along party lines, 50-48. The vote was consistently interrupted by protesters yelling and being escorted out of the Senate Gallery.
Pence presides over vote
Vice President Mike Pence is presiding over the vote to confirm Kavanaugh.
Protesters interrupted the vote continuously.
McConnell takes the Senate floor
McConnell took the Senate floor after Schumer, praising Kavanaugh and condemning his Democratic colleagues for perceived obstructionism.
“Judge Brett Kavanaugh is among the very best our country has to offer,” McConnell said. “He unquestionably deserves confirmation.”
He also said that the past few weeks of the confirmation process have “fanned the flames of partisan discord.” McConnell added that a vote to confirm Kavanaugh would prove that the Senate follows “facts and evidence.”
“This is a chamber in which the politics of intimidation and personal destruction do not win the day,” he said, alluding to allegations against Kavanaugh.
Schumer takes the Senate floor
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer took the Senate floor shortly before 3:30 p.m., decrying Kavanaugh as unfit for the court as a partisan actor. He also painted Kavanaugh as a hard conservative who would work to overturn Roe v. Wade.
He also encouraged voters angered by the confirmation process to turn out in November.
“If you believe Dr. Ford, and other brave women who came forward, and you want to vindicate their sacriface, vote,” he said.
Trump praises Collins’ speech before departing for rally
Mr. Trump spoke to reporters on the White House lawn as he left for a rally in Topeka, Kansas, this evening. He said that he was “really looking forward to the vote,” and reiterated that he believed Kavanaugh would be a “great” justice.
He also praised Collins’ speech on the Senate floor Friday when she announced her support for Kavanaugh.
“I thought that Susan was incredible yesterday,” he said. “She gave an impassioned, beautiful speech yesterday. And that was from the heart. I have great respect for Susan Collins.”
McConnell says process hasn’t “irreparably damaged” Senate
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke to Fox News shortly before the vote on the Senate floor. He said that while the confirmation process had been “nasty,” he didn’t believe it would have lasting effects on future Supreme Court nominations.
“Nothing has been irreparably damaged,” McConnell said. He also decried the “mob” of protesters that had infiltrated the Capitol. “The good news is, the mob didn’t win,” he said.
McConnell said that he was retrospectively happy people had opposed Kavanaugh so vehemently, because it galvanized Republicans.
“They played right into our hands, in retrospect,” McConnell said about Democrats.
Final vote scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m.
The final vote on Kavanaugh has been scheduled to begin between 3:30 p.m. and 3:45 p.m.
It will be a roll call vote — meaning senators will cast their votes individually.
Protesters starting to get arrested on Capitol steps
Of the scores of protesters on the Capitol steps, some are starting to get arrested, CBS News’ Bo Erickson reports.
The large group of protesters has been sitting and chanting, Erickson reports.
McConnell calls Kavanaugh opposition a “great political gift” for GOP
McConnell, in an interview with the Washington Post, called the opposition a “great political gift” for the Republican Party.
McConnell said he “never” considered asking Kavanaugh to withdraw, or asking the president to withdraw the nomination.
“I want to thank the mob, because they’ve done the one thing we were having trouble doing, which was energizing our base,” McConnell told the Post.
Anti-Kavanaugh protests not just in Washington
Protesters are demonstrating against Kavanaugh not only in Washington, but across the country — including a large protest in Cleveland.
According to CBS News affiliate Cleveland 19 News, a Cancel Kavanaugh Cleveland rally was held Saturday, hosted by progressive groups, including the Ohio branch of the Women’s March on Washington.
Melania Trump says Kavanaugh is “highly qualified”
Melania Trump praised Kavanaugh Saturday while wrapping up her four-country tour of Africa.
“I think he’s highly qualified for the Supreme Court,” she told reporters while standing in front of the Great Sphinx in Egypt.
She also said that she’s glad that both Kavanaugh and Ford were heard.
Without saying whether she believed the sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh, Mrs. Trump said victims of “any kind of abuse or violence” must be helped.
Ramirez releases statement on Kavanaugh’s confirmation
Deborah Ramirez, who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct when they were both at Yale University, released a statement on the judge’s confirmation through her attorney.
“Thirty-five years ago, the other students in the room chose to laugh and look the other way as sexual violence was perpetrated on me by Brett Kavanaugh. As I watch many of the Senators speak and vote on the floor of the Senate I feel like I’m right back atYale where half the room is laughing and looking the other way. Only this time, instead of drunk college kids, it is US Senators who are deliberately ignoring his behavior. This is how victims are isolated and silenced,” Ramirez wrote.
She thanked the people who came forward as corroborating witnesses for her story who were not interviewed by the FBI.
Ramirez also expressed solidarity with survivors of sexual assault.
“There may be people with power who are looking the other way, but there are millions more who are standing together, speaking up about personal experiences of sexual violence and taking action to support survivors.
This is truly a collective moment of survivors and allies standing together,” she said in the statement.
McConnell says vote will be between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told CBS News Saturday that the vote will be held between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. He said that he was “feeling good” about the vote.
McConnell also praised Collins’ speech on the floor yesterday declaring that she would vote to confirm Kavanaugh.
“It was one of the best speeches I’ve heard in my time in the Senate,” he said.
Trump tweets support for pro-Kavanaugh protests
Mr. Trump sent his first tweet related to Kavanaugh since Collins announced her vote Saturday morning. He advertised a pro-Kavanaugh demonstration that is set for 3 p.m.
“Women for Kavanaugh, and many others who support this very good man, are gathering all over Capital Hill in preparation for a 3-5 P.M. VOTE. It is a beautiful thing to see – and they are not paid professional protesters who are handed expensive signs. Big day for America!” Mr. Trump wrote.
The president accused anti-Kavanaugh protesters of being paid actors in a tweet Friday morning. “The very rude elevator screamers are paid professionals only looking to make Senators look bad. Don’t fall for it! Also, look at all of the professionally made identical signs. Paid for by Soros and others. These are not signs made in the basement from love! #Troublemakers” Mr. Trump wrote, referring to Democratic donor and common right-wing scapegoat George Soros.
Senate Democrats speak out against Kavanaugh
Several Democrats have taken the Senate floor, with some speaking in the middle of the night or in the early hours of the morning. Sen. Jeff Merkley spoke for the longest time, speaking Friday night and for over two hours Saturday morning to a mostly empty Senate floor, from around 4 a.m. to 6 a.m.
Senate office buildings are closed to the public Saturday, meaning that protesters are having to gather outside of the Capitol and the Supreme Court buildings.
Timing of the vote
The Senate voted to advance Kavanaugh’s confirmation shortly before 11 a.m. on Friday, meaning that the vote must be held 30 hours afterwards, and allowing senators to speak on the vote in the interim. However, the Senate is not required to wait the full 30 hours before holding the vote.
Both sides could reach a “unanimous consent agreement” to hold the vote earlier in the afternoon, if Republicans and Democrats agree that everyone has had their say.
Ford’s lawyers speak out
Ford’s attorneys Debra Katz, Lisa Banks, and Michael Bromwich have expressed their displeasure with the FBI investigation into the allegations against Kavanaugh, as well as the Senate hearings during which Ford and Kavanaugh testified.
They criticized the FBI investigation Friday for not interviewing Ford or Kavanaugh, saying that “an FBI investigation that did not include interviews of Ford and Judge Kavanaugh is not a meaningful investigation in any sense of the word.”
They also accused Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans of publicly misrepresenting their communications with Ford.
“At the hearing, Dr. Ford understood Senator Grassley’s comment to be that he personally would have flown to California to speak with her. She would have welcomed Senator Grassley and other Committee members to California but that was not one of the options offered by Committee staff,” the attorneys wrote in a statement.
Ford’s lawyers spoke to CBS News’ Kris Van Cleave:
More than 100 people arrested on Capitol Hill
Capitol Police announced that 101 people were arrested on Friday. Seventy-eight were arrested for unlawfully demonstrating in Senate office buildings. Six people were arrested on the Senate Gallery for protesting during Sen. Susan Collins’ speech on the floor when she announced her support for Kavanaugh.
Sixteen men were also arrested for blocking the street in front of the Supreme Court, and one person was arrested for marijuana use.
White House relieved over Kavanaugh developments
CBS News’ Paula Reid reports said that while the White House is feeling pleased and relieved that President Trump would be able to confirm another Supreme Court justice without much of a hitch, the president is holding off on celebrating until Kavanaugh is officially confirmed.
Mr. Trump tweeted congratulations to the Senate after it voted to advance Kavanaugh’s confirmation Friday morning. He has not personally responded to developments since then.
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded to Sen. Susan Collins’ announcement that she would vote to confirm Kavanaugh, writing on Twitter: “Thank you @SenatorCollins for standing by your convictions and doing the right thing to confirm Judge Kavanaugh.”
Vice President Mike Pence also tweeted his support for Kavanaugh on Friday. Pence often presides over momentous votes in the Senate, and is expected to preside over the vote to confirm Kavanaugh on Saturday.
Quick swearing in likely, if Kavanaugh is confirmed
Mr. Trump is likely to want Kavanaugh seated on the court as soon as possible. A private swearing-in ceremony may happen as soon as Saturday night, with a more public event on Monday.
The president is leaving before the vote Saturday to head to Kansas, where he will be holding a rally in Topeka in the evening.
Key senators announce how they’ll vote on Kavanaugh
Murkowski and Manchin were two of the final holdouts on how they would vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation, along with Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Jeff Flake. Flake announced Friday morning that he would support Kavanaugh’s confirmation, reiterating his statement of support the previous week. However, some Republicans were concerned that Flake would change his mind, since he had called for a delay in the vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation to allow the FBI to conduct a brief investigation into the allegations against the judge.
Flake, like Collins, believed that the FBI investigation, which did not corroborate the sexual assault allegations, was thorough.
Collins announced her decision in a lengthy speech on the Senate floor Friday afternoon, much of which was spent refuting Democratic criticism that Kavanaugh would overturn the Affordable Care Act or Roe v. Wade. Manchin released his statement declaring his support for Kavanaugh shortly after Collins finished her speech — and after Republicans had already secured enough votes to confirm the judge, meaning that Manchin would not be the deciding vote.
Murkowski bucked her party by voting “no” in a procedural vote to advance Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the full Senate floor. She later said that it had been a very difficult decision, but that she did not believe it was the “right time” for Kavanaugh to be seated on the court.
The Alaska senator expressed dismay at the acrimony in Kavanaugh’s confirmation process and said on the Senate floor, “I am really worried that this becomes the new normal, where we find new and even more creative ways to tear one another down, that good people are just going to say forget. It’s just not worth it.”
She explained her courtesy “present” vote for Daines, saying that she hopes “it reminds us that we can take very small, very small steps to be gracious with one another, and maybe those small gracious steps can lead to more.”