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WASHINGTON (AP) – It’ll be a “yes” vote on Brett Kavanaugh from one of the most closely watched Republican senators who’s determining the fate of the Supreme Court nominee.
The announcement from Arizona’s Jeff Flake that he’ll vote to confirm Kavanaugh virtually ensures that the nomination will advance to the full Senate from the Judiciary Committee.
Several Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee walked out of the hearing Friday morning.
Kamala Harris of California, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island left after the GOP chairman set a vote on the nomination for 1:30 p.m. Friday.
That was approved by a committee vote. Democrats say Republicans are rushing the confirmation.
During that vote, Hirono yelled: “I strongly object! What a railroad job! No, no, NO.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein says the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh is “a real test” for the Senate and the nation “to see how we treat women, especially women who are survivors of sexual assault.”
The top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee says that 27 years after the Clarence Thomas hearings, Republicans appear to have a new strategy for handling sexual assault allegations.
She says, “The Republican strategy is no longer ‘attack the victim.’ It is to ignore the victim.”
Feinstein says she’s disappointed the committee is set to vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination less than a day after emotional testimony by Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who accuses Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when both were teenagers. He denies the allegation.
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Meanwhile, Flake says he wishes he could express the confidence in Kavanaugh that some of his other GOP colleagues have. But Flakes says in a statement he still has “much doubt” after the committee’s explosive hearing Thursday.
Flake says that without evidence to corroborate Ford’s story, he believes “our system of justice affords a presumption of innocence.”
Soon Flake announced he’d vote to confirm Kavanaugh, he was cornered by two women as he got into an elevator to head to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Through tears, the women implored him to change his mind about his Kavanaugh vote.
The women were seen in TV footage blocking the Arizona senator from closing the elevator door. One woman begged Flake to look him in the eye. She said: “Look at me and tell me that it doesn’t matter what happened to me.”
Another woman said Flake was allowing someone who “violated someone” to serve on the Supreme Court. Both women cried as they spoke to him.
Eventually a member of Flake’s staff said they needed to go and the doors closed.
If the nomination advances to the full Senate, then senators could begin voting as early as Saturday.
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