Senator Collins backs Kavanaugh, paving way for confirmation

But Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, voted against proceeding to the final confirmation vote, in a move suggesting she may vote against Kavanaugh.

Another undecided Republican, Maine Sen.

Several Democrats conferred with Murkowski as well, including Minnesota Sen.

Republicans woke up on Friday without the necessary 50 votes to push ahead on Kavanaugh's nomination, people with direct knowledge of the situation tell CNN, though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his deputies were optimistic that they'd get there by the time of the vote. They both doubled-down on their attacks against Democrats for attempting to derail the entire confirmation process.

Republicans said the confidential document - which described interviews agents conducted with 10 witnesses - failed to find anyone who could corroborate allegations by his two chief accusers, Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez.

Kavanaugh's path to the court seemed unfettered until mid-September, when Ford accused him of drunkenly sexually assaulting her in a locked bedroom at a 1982 high school gathering.

Heitkamp said she was troubled by Kavanaugh's aggressive appearance before the Senate Judiciary committee and the message his confirmation would send to women and girls across the country.

Protesters rally against Kavanaugh in the atrium of the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington on Thursday.

"I'll be proud to vote to advance this nomination tomorrow", McConnell said on the Senate floor on Thursday.

UNITED STATES- SEPTEMBER 27 Sen. Lindsey Graham R-S.C. points at the Democrats as he defends Judge Brett Kavanaugh during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on his nomination be an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States focus
US Senate: Don't Approve Kavanaugh Nomination

During an interview Friday morning on NPR, White House spokeswoman Kerri Kupec echoed that view, saying: "We are confident Judge Kavanaugh will be confirmed".

That this long, bitter saga ended on such a close vote with any suspense at all is a testament to the anti-Kavanaugh sentiment that kept all but one of the Democrats up for reelection this year in opposition to him-and to the ruthlessness of Republicans in rushing to a vote the minute a cursory FBI investigation of allegations against Kavanaugh was completed. He was slated to fly to NY for three fundraisers.

On the flip side, Arizona Republican Jeff Flake has announced he is not running for re-election, thus freeing him from the burden of expectation from Trump supporters, but he still went along with the party for the procedural vote.

Republicans can only lose a single GOP vote if all Democrats vote against the nomination.

In that case, a Saturday evening session could be held open for hours into Sunday so Daines, who supports Kavanaugh, could return to Washington after the wedding and cast his vote. Kavanaugh could provide the decisive vote to roll back abortion rights, outlaw affirmative action programs and slash environmental regulations. She told reporters Friday that Kavanaugh is "a good man" but maybe "not the right man for the court at this time".

After voting "yes" to advance Kavanaugh through the Senate, Collins announced later Friday that she would vote to approve his confirmation.

Two other women also made accusations of sexual misconduct by Kavanaugh in the 1980s.

An angry Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican and head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said on the Senate floor that "the fix was in from the very beginning".

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said the Federal Bureau of Investigation was unable to locate "any third parties who could attest to any of these allegations - no backup from any witnesses, including those specifically named as eyewitnesses by the people who brought the allegations in the first place". They said he also seemed ready to knock down President Barack Obama's health care law and to rule for Trump if federal authorities probing his 2016 campaign's alleged connections to Russian Federation try to pursue him in court.

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