Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s mine-laden trek to the U.S. Supreme Court ended Saturday with a narrow Senate approval, his skids greased by a November-shy Democrat and a president who defended him against an onslaught of uncorroborated sexual assault claims.
The court returned from eight to nine justices on Saturday night when Chief Justice John Roberts swore Kavanaugh in during a private ceremony.
Also present was retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, who Kavanaugh once clerked for and whose retirement opened up a seat on the nine-member panel
The political fallout won’t be known until November 6, when more than one-third of the senators and every House member will face voters.
Chief Justice John Roberts (right) administers the Constitutional Oath to Judge Brett Kavanaugh in the Justices’ Conference Room of the Supreme Court Building. Ashley Kavanaugh holds the Bible. In the foreground are their daughters, Margaret (left) and Liza
Retired Justice Anthony M. Kennedy (right) swears Kavanaugh in to the Supreme court after taking the Constitutional Oath on Saturday night in a private ceremony
‘He’s going in looking very good,’ President Donald Trump said on the South Lawn of the White House, a day after Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins offered her stamp of approval and guaranteed the narrowest of victories.
Hours later on Air Force One, he told reporters he is ‘100 per cent’ certain that Christine Blasey Ford, who claimed Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her decades ago, pointed her finger at the wrong man.
‘There is no one with a squeaky clean past like Brett Kavanaugh,’ the president said. ‘He is an outstanding person and I’m very honored to have chosen him. We’re very honored that he was able to withstand this horrible, horrible attack by the Democrats.’
When Vice President Mike Pence’s gavel fell Saturday, Kavanaugh had won on a 50-48 tally with his lone Republican opponent sitting on the sidelines as a favor to a friend.
Protesters in the Senate gallery, mostly female, were in no mood for good will. They interrupted the vote at several stages, prompting police to remove them. Pence, presiding over the Supreme Court reckoning, demanded order as cries of ‘Shame! Shame!’ and ‘I do not consent!’ rang out.
Federal Judge Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed Saturday as the next Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, despite Democrats objections centered on the uncorroborated sexual assault allegations of a woman who claimed he attacked her 36 years ago; he left his house Saturday en route to the Supreme Court to be sworn in
The 50-48-1 vote reflected pro-Kavanaugh Republican Sen. Steve Daines’ decision to spend the day at his daughter’s wedding in Montana, anti-Kavanaugh Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s decision to vote ‘present’ instead of ‘no’ in a show of respect for him
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Saturday that liberals’ vehement opposition to Kavanaugh has fired up the Republican base in time to make a different in the November 6 midterm elections
Protesters, estimated at 1,000, descended on the U.S. Capitol Saturday and took over the building’s giant staircase to voice their opposition; about 100 who disobeyed U.S. Capitol Police or crossed barricades were arrested
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spent Saturday predicting a red wave of Republican election turnout, saying activists on the left have shot Democrats in the foot.
‘Our base is fired up,’ he told reporters after the vote. ‘We finally discovered the one thing that would fire up the Republican base. And we didn’t think of it. The other side did it.’
‘The tactics that have been employed, both by Democratic senators and by the virtual mob that’s assaulted all of us in the course of this process has turned our base on fire,’ McConnell said, looking forward to an election exactly one month away.
‘I want to thank the mob, he told The Washington Post.
McConnell denied the controversy would have an impact on the party’s prospects among women voters in November: ‘This was about someone being treated fairly … not about unsubstantiated charges.’
The Women’s March, the group behind protests the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration last year, tweeted that its members were responsible for disrupting the Kavanaugh vote.
Trump thanked the lawmakers for giving him his second Supreme Court pick in two years.
‘I applaud and congratulate the U.S. Senate for confirming our GREAT NOMINEE, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, to the United States Supreme Court,’ the president tweeted from Air Force One. ‘Later today, I will sign his Commission of Appointment, and he will be officially sworn in. Very exciting!’
Senators knew before Saturday’s vote how it would end. Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia crossed the aisle to support Kavanaugh in the hope of flattening a hurdle to his re-election in a deep red state that Trump won in a landslide.
Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins left the Senate floor under armed U.S. Capitol Police guard; it was her pro-Kavanaugh speech on Friday that tilted the nomination fight against the women’s-issues groups that hoped she would reject the nominee
President Donald Trump told reporters at the White House as he left for a Kansas rally that he has ‘great respect’ for Sen. Susan Collins, the Maine Republican who saved Kavanaugh’s nomination with a speech endorsing his nomination on Friday
The president’s tweeted victory lap came as he sat on Air Force One, after watching the vote on television
Trump congratulated Montana Republican Sen. Steve Daines, who was able to skip the vote in favor of his daughter’s wedding because the GOP had 51 ‘yes’ votes and could spare him
Centrist Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski refused to cast a ‘yes’ vote, but called out ‘present’ instead of ‘no’ so fellow Republican Steve Daines of Montana could skip the roll call and walk his daughter down the aisle on her wedding day.
Trump tweeted that ‘Steve was ready to do whatever he had to, but we had the necessary number. To the Daines Family, congratulations-have a wonderful day!’
But the president had harsh words for Murkowski, the lone Republican senator who couldn’t get to ‘yes.’
‘I think she will never recover from this,’ he told The Washington Post. ‘I think the people from Alaska will never forgive her for what she did.’
Murkowski was re-elected in 2016, meaning she won’t have to face voters again until 2022.
The final tally, 50-48-1, was every bit as razor-thin as the national fault-line that rumbled under weeks of hearings for the man Trump nominated to replace retired Justice Anthony Stevens.
About 1,000 protesters occupied the Capitol steps on Saturday, some willingly arrested and loaded into police buses.
‘Vote them out!’ was the most common chant, directed at every Republican who sided with Trump despite a heartfelt sexual assault claim from a woman who claims a 17-year-old Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed and groped her at a 1982 party, when she was 15.
Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski was the only Republican who didn’t vote for Kavanaugh; President Trump said that ‘she will never recover from this’ and ‘the people from Alaska will never forgive her’
The Women’s March claimed responsibility for the protesters in the Senate gallery who disrupted Saturday’s Kavanaugh vote with cries of ‘Shame! Shame!’ and ‘I do not consent!’
Vice President Mike Pence, fulfilling his constitutional duty to preside over the Senate, called for police to eject protesters from the gallery after about a half-dozen outbursts
A dejected California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, spoke to reporters after exiting the Senate floor
Ford had hours of Senate Judiciary Committee time to make her case, and won converts outside Congress. But none of the witnesses she cited recalled the events she described in a letter to her senator, California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, that was later leaked to the press.
Ford’s attorney said Saturday that her client would not continue to press her allegations, and does not want to see Congress impeach Kavanaugh.
Liberal forces never abandoned Ford, though, even after Sen. Collins said she found her unpersuasive.
‘I believe that she believes what she testified to,’ Collins told CNN in a needle-threading exercise.
And Trump, normally cool to Collins’ moderate form of Republicanism, declared before leaving for a Kansas rally that ‘I have great respect for Susan Collins and I always have.’
The partisan political split on Kavanaugh, and its implications for political opportunism, never showed signs of letting up on Saturday.
Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer spoke on the floor, addressing the millions watching on TV more than the other 99 senators.
‘I share the deep anguish that millions of Americans are experiencing today,’ he said. ‘But I say to you, my fellow Americans, there is one answer: Vote.’
‘I share the deep anguish that millions of Americans are experiencing today,’ Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said, ‘but I say to you, my fellow Americans, there is one answer: Vote’
Demonstrators were arrested on the steps of the U.S. Capitol as they protested the big political win that will tilt the nation’s high court to the right
Republican majority Leader Mitch McConnell blasted back, saying Kavanaugh ‘unquestionably deserves confirmation,’ and sniping about the nature of Ford’s claims and the nominee’s denials.
‘This is an institution where the evidence and the facts matter,’ McConnell said. ‘This is a chamber in which the politics of intimidation and personal destruction do not win the day.’
He said in a post-vote press conference that Republicans ‘stood up for the presumption of innocence.’
‘We refused to be intimidated by the mob of people that were coming after Republican members at their homes, and in the halls,’ he said.
McConnell still has a slate of a dozen or more lifetime judicial appointments on his calendar, and he wants them confirmed before the midterm election.
A Senate aide told DailyMail.com on Saturday that he is privately threatening to keep the Senate in session as long as it takes to get that done, even if senators have to stay in Washington instead of going home to campaign.
This year, that would especially hurt Democrats.
Protesters in Washington, D.C. set up the next round of political tensions as the midterm elections loom
Trump fans in Topeka, Kansas lined upSaturday hours before the start of a rally where he’s expected to take an extended victory lap about his Supreme Court success
Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY’s List, which contributes to female Democratic candidates, complained that the Senate had confirmed ‘an alleged sexual assailant and anti-choice radical to a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court.’
‘But we will carry that anger into the election. Women will not forget this,’ Schriock vowed.
Kay Coles James, president of the conservative Heritage Foundation, called the vote ‘a victory for liberty in America’ and said Kavanaugh is ‘a good man and good jurist.’
Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, the Judiciary Committee chair, told reporters he had a message for protesters: ‘Thank god that you’re willing to exercise your First Amendment rights of association and free speech. Keep it up because it’s going to make America stronger.’
But he had no such charity for his Democratic colleages, claiming they ‘resorted to outright character assassination’ an in attempt to torpedo Kavanaugh.
‘Their smear campaign featured baseless allegations of perjury and claims that, as a teenager, he participated in the gang rapes of women,’ Grassley said in a statement.
‘I’ve been around long enough to see ugly left-wing smear campaigns against Supreme Court nominees, but this was beyond the pale.’