(CBS NEWS) — Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s second nominee to the Supreme Court, is expected to be confirmed to the court on Saturday with a Senate vote largely divided along party lines.
Senators voted to advance Kavanaugh’s confirmation Friday morning by a 51-49 margin.
The final Senate vote is likely to occur at between 3:30 p.m. and 3:45 p.m. ET, with an expected 50-48 margin in favor of confirming Kavanaugh to the highest court. It will be a roll call vote — meaning senators will cast their votes individually.
The confirmation process has been bitterly partisan, and disputes were exacerbated by allegations of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh that began surfacing in September. In response to the allegations, the Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony from Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who alleges Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were in high school. Kavanaugh denies the allegation, while she has stood by her testimony.
The committee paused the nomination process for a week so the FBI could investigate. Afterwards, Republicans declared that the FBI had not found any corroborating witnesses, while Democrats complained the FBI didn’t look hard or long enough.
Protesters starting to get arrested on Capitol steps
Of the scores of protesters on the Capitol steps, some are starting to get arrested, CBS News’ Bo Erickson reports.
The large group of protesters has been sitting and chanting, Erickson reports.
McConnell calls Kavanaugh opposition a “great political gift” for GOP
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, in an interview with the Washington Post, called the opposition a “great political gift” for the Republican Party. McConnell said he “never” considered asking Kavanaugh to withdraw, or asking the president to withdraw the nomination.
“I want to thank the mob, because they’ve done the one thing we were having trouble doing, which was energizing our base,” McConnell told the Post.
Anti-Kavanaugh protests not just in Washington
Protesters are demonstrating against Kavanaugh not only in Washington, but across the country — including a large protest in Cleveland.
According to CBS News affiliate Cleveland 19 News, a Cancel Kavanaugh Cleveland rally was held Saturday, hosted by progressive groups, including the Ohio branch of the Women’s March on Washington.
Melania Trump says Kavanaugh is “highly qualified”
First Lady Melania Trump praised Kavanaugh Saturday while wrapping up her four-country tour of Africa.
“I think he’s highly qualified for the Supreme Court,” she told reporters while standing in front of the Great Sphinx in Egypt.
She also said that she’s glad that both Kavanaugh and Ford were heard.
President Trump tweets support for pro-Kavanaugh protests
Mr. Trump sent his first tweet related to Kavanaugh since Collins announced her vote Saturday morning. He advertised a pro-Kavanaugh demonstration that is set for 3 p.m.
Women for Kavanaugh, and many others who support this very good man, are gathering all over Capitol Hill in preparation for a 3-5 P.M. VOTE. It is a beautiful thing to see – and they are not paid professional protesters who are handed expensive signs. Big day for America!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 6, 2018
“Women for Kavanaugh, and many others who support this very good man, are gathering all over Capital Hill in preparation for a 3-5 P.M. VOTE. It is a beautiful thing to see – and they are not paid professional protesters who are handed expensive signs. Big day for America!” Mr. Trump wrote.
Senate Democrats speak out against Kavanaugh
Several Democrats have taken the Senate floor, with some speaking in the middle of the night or in the early hours of the morning. Sen. Jeff Merkley spoke for the longest time, speaking Friday night and for over two hours Saturday morning to a mostly empty Senate floor, from around 4-6 a.m.
Senate office buildings are closed to the public Saturday, meaning that protesters are having to gather outside of the Capitol and the Supreme Court buildings.
More than 100 people arrested on Capitol Hill
Capitol Police announced that 101 people were arrested on Friday. Seventy-eight were arrested for unlawfully demonstrating in Senate office buildings. Six people were arrested on the Senate Gallery for protesting during Sen. Susan Collins’ speech on the floor when she announced her support for Kavanaugh.
Sixteen men were also arrested for blocking the street in front of the Supreme Court, and one person was arrested for marijuana use.
White House relieved over Kavanaugh developments
CBS News’ Paula Reid reports said that while the White House is feeling pleased and relieved that President Trump would be able to confirm another Supreme Court justice without much of a hitch, the president is holding off on celebrating until Kavanaugh is officially confirmed.
Mr. Trump tweeted congratulations to the Senate after it voted to advance Kavanaugh’s confirmation Friday morning. He has not personally responded to developments since then.
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded to Sen. Susan Collins’ announcement that she would vote to confirm Kavanaugh, writing on Twitter: “Thank you @SenatorCollins for standing by your convictions and doing the right thing to confirm Judge Kavanaugh.”
Vice President Mike Pence also tweeted his support for Kavanaugh on Friday. Pence often presides over momentous votes in the Senate, and is expected to preside over the vote to confirm Kavanaugh on Saturday.
Quick swearing in likely, if/when Kavanaugh is confirmed
Mr. Trump is likely to want Kavanaugh seated on the court as soon as possible. A private swearing-in ceremony may happen as soon as Saturday night, with a more public event on Monday.
The president is leaving before the vote Saturday to head to Kansas, where he will be holding a rally in Topeka in the evening.
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