White House confident as Senators split over Kavanaugh FBI review


Credit: Jamie Dupree

The White House and GOP leaders on Thursday expressed increasing confidence about the confirmation chances for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, as Senators broke along party lines over an extra FBI review of allegations concerning Kavanaugh, with Republicans calling for confirmation of the judge this weekend and Democrats arguing the FBI review fell short of what was needed.

"The fact is that these allegations have not been corroborated," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor, again strongly denouncing attacks on Judge Kavanaugh, and pressing the GOP case that Democrats have relied allegations based on flimsy evidence.

For Democrats, their reaction was the exact opposite, as they claimed the FBI had been wrongly limited by the White House in this extra review, claiming too many questions were going unanswered.

"The most notable part of this report is what's not in it," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), as she said it seemed to be "the product of an incomplete investigation."

"This FBI report is blatantly incomplete and inadequate," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), who compared it to a 'cover up.'

But for all of the complaints by Democrats that not enough questions were asked, or that not enough witnesses were interviewed, there was no sign that the extra FBI review had pushed any GOP Senators to oppose Kavanaugh.

Senators on both sides were closely watching Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) - all three at one point were in a secure room in the bowels of the Capitol complex, looking at the FBI document, which was not being publicly released.

"It appears to be a very thorough investigation," Collins told reporters after her first check on the FBI file.

"There has been no one to corroborate any of the allegations by Dr. Ford," said Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX).

Through the day, Senators gave various comments as they emerged from the room with the FBI file.

"I'm not really going to comment until I've finished reading it," said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). "We ran out of time on this first session, so we'll be back later to wrap it up."

"For anybody who had any doubts at all, this FBI piece was very helpful," said Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), who made clear to reporters that he would vote for Kavanaugh, and argued this week delay has only helped galvanize support among GOP Senators.

Among Democrats, there was no Senators supporting Kavanaugh; Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) - in a very difficult re-election race, said she would stick with her party and vote against the President's Supreme Court choice.

"If that’s an investigation, it’s a bull**** investigation," said Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ).

At the White House, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters there was growing hope that Kavanaugh would ultimately be confirmed by the Senate.

"We certainly hope so," Sanders told reporters, arguing that "we didn't learn anything new" from the FBI report, as she denied accusations that the White House had limited the investigation into allegations against Kavanaugh.

"We allowed the FBI to do exactly what they do best," Sanders said.

A first test vote on ending debate is expected on Friday. If Republicans have a majority, then a final vote on the Kavanaugh nomination could come by Saturday.