The big questions heading into Kavanaugh’s final confirmation vote

Republican Senator Mitch McConnell

Separately, in an extraordinary mea culpa, the man at the center of the storm, admitted he may have been too emotional and said things he should not have said in last week's Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, while insisting he is an independent and impartial nominee. They said he'd push the court further right, including possible sympathetic rulings for Trump himself.

Since Christine Blasey Ford came forward last month to accuse Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were high school students in the 1980s, the nomination has effectively become a referendum on whether senators believe Ford or Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh adamantly denies both accusations.

During his testimony, he accused the sexual misconduct allegations as being Democratic conspiracy to get revenge on him for his role as an associate counsel in the Justice Department investigating President Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky, and asked Sen.

Flake - along with Republican Sen.

Republicans hold a 51-49 majority in the U.S. Senate, and with the two key senators choosing to vote in favour of Kavanaugh, the confirmation looked locked in late on Friday. Hundreds of other demonstrators watched from behind barricades.

"The resistance that has existed since the day after the November 2016 election is centered right here on Capitol Hill", Sen.

"November is coming", "Vote them out" and "We believe survivors", they chanted.

Confirmation would be a crowning achievement for Trump, his conservative base and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. But Collins said the Federal Bureau of Investigation had found no corroborating evidence from witnesses whose names Ford had provided. "We must always remember that it is when passions are most inflamed that fairness is most in jeopardy". Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) crossed the aisle to support Kavanaugh, and Sen. Manchin's defection is easy to explain: he is up for re-election in a conservative state that Trump won by 42 points, so effectively he is a Democrat only in name; he has to toe the sentiments of his conservative constituents to have any hope of being re-elected.

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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said that "We can salvage some decency here at the end", by rejecting Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court. Susan Collins, R-Maine, declared her support in a speech on the Senate floor. "Before left wing outside groups and Democratic leaders had him in their sight, Judge Kavanaugh possessed an impeccable reputation and was held in high esteem", Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley said on the Senate floor Friday morning.

It is fair to assume that Manchin won't announce his vote on Kavanaugh until after Collins makes her move. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) announced Thursday he plans to be at his daughter's wedding back home on Saturday.

A former Collins staffer said the Senator will absolutely vote on her own convictions on Kavanaugh, and will not be swayed by the protestors or the anger, one way or the other.

President Donald Trump said after the procedural vote that he was "very proud".

If even one of them votes no, then vice-president Mike Pence will have to cast a tie-breaking vote.

If approved by the 100-member body, a final confirmation vote to put Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court is expected to take place Saturday.

Democrats maintained that Kavanaugh is an unsuitable candidate. They said he also seemed ready to rule for Trump if federal authorities probing allegations of connections between the president's 2016 campaign and Russian Federation tried to pursue him in court. He has denied her allegations, as well as allegations of sexual misconduct from two other women. He was nominated by Trump to succeed retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was seen as a swing vote on the court.

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