Senate Narrowly Advances Kavanaugh Nomination

Protesters occupy the Senate Hart building during a rally against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Capitol Hill in Washington

Brett Kavanaugh moved closer to confirmation to the US Supreme Court by clearing a Senate test vote as Republicans hope he'll win final approval Saturday, after allegations of sexual assault and misconduct from more than three decades ago almost derailed his nomination.

The only Republican to vote against Kavanaugh, Senator Lisa Murkowski, said in a speech on the Senate floor on Friday night that her decision was "agonizing" but after watching Kavanaugh's Senate testimony she "could not conclude that he is the right person for the court at this time".

Democrats have taken issue with the Federal Bureau of Investigation report, which they say is rushed and incomplete, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell insisted in his unwavering support for Kavanaugh that the charges against him are "uncorroborated".

Murkowski said later she opposes Kavanaugh but will ask to be recorded as "present" during Saturday's confirmation vote to accommodate Republican Sen.

Allegations that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford when they were both teenagers have added to protests against the nomination.

The striking predominance of men on the Committee was brought to light during Christine Blasey Ford's hearing, which led Republicans to hire female prosecutor Rachel Mitchell to question Ford on her sexual assault allegations.

Senators voted 51-49 on a key procedural vote Friday to end debate on Kavanaugh, lining up Saturday's final confirmation vote.

One of them, Republican Susan Collins, was due to announce at 3:00pm local time on Friday which way she would go in the final vote.

If Kavanaugh wins confirmation at a final Senate vote which is likely on Saturday, Trump can claim victory in his drive to consolidate conservative dominance of the nation's highest court and move the American judiciary rightward.

Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation to the US Supreme Court appeared all but assured Friday after two key lawmakers who had wavered on his controversial nomination signaled their support.

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In his senate testimony last week, Kavanaugh denied the accusations. Joe Manchin told reporters he would vote to confirm him.

Trump weighed in shortly after the result was announced, tweeting, "Very proud of the U.S. Senate for voting "YES" to advance the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh!". "This has truly been the most hard evaluation of a decision that I've ever had to make, and I've made some interesting ones in my political career", she said. "On average, any woman in the United States Senate, whether they're on Judiciary or any other committee, probably works harder than the average man", he said. She supports the #MeToo movement, Collins said, calling it badly needed and long overdue.

"With the research that I do, when I talk to people about it, nearly anyone can immediately start telling me about a friend or a family member they know who has experienced violence", she says.

After the vote, dozens also were arrested outside Republican Senator Jeff Flake's office.

Lisa Murkowski turned against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh quietly, uttering a single word: "No". She had accused him of sexual assault during a party decades ago when they were in high school.

White House spokesman Raj Shah said that after the "most comprehensive review of a Supreme Court nominee in history", the White House is "fully confident" Kavanaugh will be confirmed.

Republicans have a 51-49 majority in the Senate.

'Never before have we had a nominee display such flagrant partisanship and open hostility at a hearing, ' said Feinstein of California.

Afterwards, Donald Trump ordered an FBI investigation into the allegations against Kavanaugh. If confirmed, Kavanaugh could tip the court's balance toward conservatives for a generation.

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