Senators whose votes could make or break Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court dropped some hints Thursday on how they intend to vote after receiving the FBI’s new report on sexual misconduct allegations against the nominee.
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), whose indecision last Friday prompted his Republican colleagues to push for the investigation, told reporters that he saw “no additional corroborating information” about the claims.
All eyes are on Flake and the handful of senators who have indicated that what the FBI turns up in its report will influence their decision on Kavanaugh, who faces assault allegations from multiple women.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), a member of that group, said the investigation appears “very thorough.” She plans to “personally read the interviews” later in the day, she added.
A pair of red-state Democrats, Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), who are not on the Judiciary Committee, are also considered influential. According to a Politico report citing Manchin’s aides, President Donald Trump has personally discussed Kavanaugh with Manchin. The senator appears to be leaning in Kavanaugh’s favor, the outlet said.
Heitkamp has been dodging reporters. The centrist Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has not indicated which way she is leaning, either, simply telling HuffPost that she was about to read the FBI report. Murkowski did not attend a briefing on the report earlier in the day.
Christine Blasey Ford testified last Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the 1982 party where she says Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed and attempted to remove her clothing while grinding against her. Deborah Ramirez subsequently came forward to accuse Kavanaugh of thrusting his exposed penis against her at a Yale party in the 1980s.
The White House announced very early Thursday that it had received the FBI’s report and sent it on to the Senate, saying the administration is “fully confident” in Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
Ramirez was interviewed by the FBI. Ford was not. Attorneys for Ford blasted the report shortly after its release, saying the FBI’s effort “cannot be called an investigation.”
Democrats similarly criticized the investigation for failing to interview more witnesses ― FBI officials reached out to 10 people and interviewed nine.
Jennifer Bendery contributed reporting.