The White House received the FBI’s report on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and is “fully confident” the Senate will approve his nomination, a spokesman said.
The Senate braced for a crucial initial vote Friday on Kavanaugh’s nomination after Majority Leader Mitch McConnell set his polarized chamber on a schedule to decide an election-season battle that has consumed the nation. A showdown roll call over confirmation seems likely over the weekend.
McConnell, R-Ky., cemented the process late Wednesday. With Republicans clinging to a razor-thin 51-49 majority and five senators — including three Republicans — still vacillating, the conservative jurist’s prospects of Senate confirmation remained murky and dependent, in part, on the file’s contents, which are supposed to be kept secret.
“There will be plenty of time for members to review and be briefed on the supplemental material” before Friday’s vote, McConnell said to the nearly empty chamber. In a rare moment of randomness in what’s been a deadly serious process, the normally meticulous lawmaker’s cell phone emitted a ring tone during part of his remarks.
Lawmakers were planning to begin reading the FBI report Thursday morning, with senators and a small number of top aides permitted to view it in a secure room in the Capitol complex. Senators are not supposed to divulge the contents of the agency’s background reports.
The report was arriving at a Capitol palpably tense over the political stakes of the nomination fight and from aggressive anti-Kavanaugh protesters who have rattled and reportedly harassed senators. Feeding the anxiety was an unusually beefy presence of the Capitol Police, who were keeping demonstrators and frequently reporters at arm’s length by forming wedges around lawmakers walking through corridors.
Amid complaints that some lawmakers were being confronted outside their homes, McConnell claimed on the Senate floor that the protesters were “part of the organized effort” to derail Kavanaugh’s nomination.
“There is no chance in the world that they’re going to scare us out of doing our duty,” he said.
Barring leaks, it was unclear how much of the FBI report, if any, would be made public. While senators from both sides have expressed support for revealing at least parts of the findings, FBI background checks on nominees are supposed to remain confidential.