Kavanaugh confirmation advances to a final vote

Senators voted 51-49 to end debate on Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination, setting up a final vote to confirm Kavanaugh for Saturday afternoon. Kavanaugh advances in key Senate vote:

Kavanaugh’s nomination got a last-minute boost when Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Susan Collins (R-ME) voted to end debate on Kavanaugh’s nomination. Manchin was the only Democrat to vote yes.

Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), however, voted against advancing the nomination, the only Republican to do so.

Senate Republicans acknowledged ahead of time that they might not know the outcome of the vote by the time it started — an unusual move for a leadership team that likes to keep a tight grip on floor action.

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This doesn’t guarantee they will each vote to confirm him. Collins (Maine) voted to end debate but isn’t expected to make an announcement on if she will vote to confirm him until 3 p.m., setting up a must-watch moment on the Senate floor.

Republicans hold a slim 51-seat majority in the Senate, which allows them to lose one vote from their conference and still confirm Kavanaugh without Democratic help.

The vote’s drama was upped a notch Thursday evening when Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) announced that he would leave Washington after the procedural vote to fly to Montana for his daughter’s wedding, possibly leaving Republicans short-handed for the final confirmation vote.

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[T]hough key swing votes remained undecided Thursday after being briefed on the FBI’s report, their colleagues appeared confident that Kavanaugh would ultimately get the votes to be confirmed after Collins and Flake spoke positively about the investigation.

Collins told reporters that the FBI’s work seemed “very thorough.” Flake added that “no new corroborative information came out of it.”

I have to agree with Elvia Diaz of The Republic. Is Brett Kavanaugh nothing more than a publicity stunt for Sen. Jeff Flake? Answer, “Yes”:

Sen. Jeff Flake’s hunger for publicity has gone off the charts with his recent stunt over Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination.

There is no other way to explain the Arizona Republican senator’s maneuvering. He drew the national spotlight on himself when he called for a limited FBI investigation into decades-old sexual allegations against Kavanaugh.

In a drama that played out on live national television, Flake got up from his seat and single-handedly paused a fight he characterized as ripping the country apart, agreeing with a Democratic colleague to look into the allegations.

Flake’s intervention would have been heroic if the FBI had done a thorough investigation, but it turns out the good fellas at the agency didn’t see fit to interview the main characters, Kavanaugh and his accuser Christine Blasey Ford.

What a joke.

Talk is one thing. Voting is another

Flake, one of the swing votes in the confirmation, now appears poised to support Kavanaugh, saying he agrees with fellow Sen. Susan Collins that this FBI inquiry was “thorough. A vote is expected as soon as Friday, and that means the conservative judge who lashed out at Democratic senators will join the Supreme Court where he can take his revenge.

You can thank Flake for that.

He talks tough about Trump’s divisive rhetoric but continues to support his agenda. And now that he holds the key to one of the most consequential appointments, Flake seems to be playing the usual partisan politics.

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What Flake did was to give the country a breather, but nothing else.

Flake’s no hero. He’s a tragedy

Is that heroic? Flake has said that he found Kavanaugh’s partisan attacks problematic. But he’s hinting that he’s fine with an FBI inquiry that didn’t even bother to interview Kavanaugh and Blasey Ford.

What a joke.

If Flake had planned to vote for Kavanaugh, I’d have preferred he not give the country any hope of due process. In the end, Flake’s political maneuvering may prove to be just a publicity stunt for a presidential bid or to land a job at a conservative think tank somewhere.

That, my friends, is tragic, not heroic.

I cannot forget the pained voice of Maria Gallagher who tearfully confronted Flake in an elevator and demanded he justify his decision to support Kavanaugh.

Look at me when I’m talking to you!” said one of the women, who said she had been sexually assaulted.

You’re telling me that my assault doesn’t matter, that what happened to me doesn’t matter and that you’re going to let people who do these things into power!

This is exactly the message Senator Flake, and all Republican senators, save one, sent to America’s women today: “you don’t matter.” I hope that Senator Flake is forever haunted for the rest of his days by the voice of Maria Gallagher ringing in his ears.

Maria Gallagher writes in the New York Times today, I Was in the Elevator With Jeff Flake. Senators, Don’t Look Away From Me.:

If Mr. Flake had been confident in his decision to vote yes on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination, he would have looked me in the face, point blank and explained why he was going to do what he believed in. What his refusal to look at me told me was that even though his actions were going to affect women, he didn’t want to confront them. I wanted him to look in my eyes and acknowledge my pain; it was clear that he wished he could have stayed in his office and not faced those whose lives would be affected by his actions.

And yet, frustrating as it can be, a sense of shame can also provide an important opening. Those four minutes in the elevator with Mr. Flake were a whirlwind, but I will never forget his eyes after I pleaded with him to look at me, to not look away. When he looked up, I didn’t see a senator. I saw a man, torn between his conscience and his party. And he saw me, a young woman trying to make a difference in the way that we can in a democracy: by using her voice.

The question of whether to support a Supreme Court nominee who has been accused of sexual assault should not be partisan. This is about the treatment of survivors. It is about telling us that what happens to us matters. That our traumas are not something to be ignored but are to be believed and investigated. Fully investigated.

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But what happens over the next few days will help determine whether we move closer to that time or are set back. When a person who holds the highest office in the United States ridicules a brave survivor, as Donald Trump did on Tuesday, it is a despicable display of disregard for the courage it took for Dr. Blasey to confront her worst trauma. The F.B.I., which was supposed to be investigating Dr. Blasey’s accusations, did not speak to her over the course of the investigation, which does not inspire confidence that the stories of survivors are being taken seriously.

To the senators about to vote yes: I can’t get into an elevator with all of you and beg you to look at me. You say you listened to Dr. Blasey, but you have given few indications that you heard her. Listen to and really hear the women who are confronting their innermost trauma to convince you that sexual assault isn’t something to be swept aside, no matter how long ago it happened — that it is something for which people, no matter who they are, should be held accountable.

You’ve deemed Dr. Blasey credible; don’t look away now. Look survivors, all of us, in the eye. Show us we matter.

Republicans just looked away.  The message to America’s women today: “you don’t matter.”

Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post advises what should hapen next in response to this tragedy. Democrats, get mad about Kavanaugh. Then get even.

Pay attention, Democrats. Watch what Republicans are doing. You’ll see what raw power looks like — and understand why winning in November is so vital for the nation’s future.

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Forced to reluctantly reopen the FBI’s background investigation, Republicans imposed an arbitrary one-week limit. Neither Ford nor Kavanaugh was interviewed. No attempt was made to contact more than 40 witnesses who might have confirmed or refuted the stories of misconduct told by Ford and two other women, Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick.

Trump, at a campaign-style rally, ridiculed Ford in a blame-the-victim rant that drew cruel laughter from a Mississippi crowd. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) plowed ahead toward a vote to confirm Kavanaugh, 53, as a Supreme Court justice for life.

That’s what you can do if you have power — and what you cannot prevent if you are powerless.

Republican political operatives are gleeful that the Kavanaugh fight has riled up the party’s base with a month to go before the midterm election. Some believe the controversy has all but eliminated the possibility that Democrats could seize control of the Senate and even put in doubt whether the GOP will lose the House.

That’s nothing but hyperventilation at this point. I would advise Republicans to be careful what they wish for.

It was inevitable, in my view, that Republican voters’ enthusiasm for the November election would rise, if only because there was no way for it to go but up. Trump is brilliant at inciting his core supporters, and he was bound to find some issue to flog. Republicans have always taken judicial nominations more seriously than Democrats; and Kavanaugh’s defiance seems to have inspired even some GOP stalwarts who see Trump as a clownish interloper.

But if Democrats are not equally motivated by this outrageous power play, then they don’t deserve to win.

The way Ford, Ramirez and Swetnick have been treated is appalling and, given what we should have learned from the #MeToo movement, infuriating. Ramirez and Swetnick were, for all intents and purposes, simply ignored; no meaningful attempt was made to corroborate or disprove their stories. Ramirez provided the names of more than 20 potential witnesses, according to her lawyer. Not one was contacted by the FBI.

Ford was heard, then ignored. Her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee was called “compelling” by White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and deemed “credible” or “believable” by almost everyone else. Yet she was not believed. Republican senators were much more concerned with the impact her allegations were having on Kavanaugh’s life than with the impact the alleged assault has had on Ford’s.

Republicans were also untroubled by Kavanaugh’s shocking display of temperament, or lack thereof. He bizarrely cited “revenge on behalf of the Clintons” as a reason for Ford’s allegation, attacked Democratic senators in a nakedly partisan way and warned that “what goes around, comes around,” which sounded very much like a threat.

Such a performance should be considered disqualifying. But Republicans are in the majority, and they have the power to ignore what the nation saw and heard.

Democrats cannot afford to be discouraged. They need to keep talking about the issues that have found resonance among voters — health care, stagnant middle-class incomes, corruption, tax cuts for corporations and millionaires. They need to get minorities and young voters to the polls. As the Kavanaugh issue inevitably fades for Republicans, Democrats need to keep their eyes on the prize.

Get mad about Kavanaugh, and then get even. What “comes around” must be a Democratic wave.

A “pink wave” of women voters, and the men who love them, outraged that mostly old white Republican men in Congress and the pussy-grabber-in-chief president dismissively tells them that “you don’t matter.” The next Women’s March must be a march to the polls on November 6. Wear a pink ribbon and vote these mouth breather knuckle-dragging neanderthal Republicans out of office en masse from top to bottom on your ballot. Resist!





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