Republican Senator Susan Collins will vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination, all but ensuring that a deeply riven Senate will elevate the conservative jurist to the nation's highest court despite allegations that he sexually assaulted women decades ago.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reacted Friday to the projected vote total being just enough to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court during Saturday's Senate session.
U.S. Senator Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) also said Friday he will likely vote for Kavanaugh, which means the judge could get as many as 51 votes. Susan Collins, R-Maine, announced she was a "yes" vote for Kavanaugh, essentially securing his confirmation when the final vote takes place, which is expected on Saturday.
Yet Kavanaugh's pathway to confirmation seemed unfettered until Ford and two other women emerged with sexual misconduct allegations from the 1980s.
Earlier today, Senate lawmakers backed Kavanaugh by 51 to 49 in a procedural vote that moved the Republican-controlled Senate toward a definitive decision.
Democrats also challenged Kavanaugh's honesty, temperament and ability to be nonpartisan after he fumed at last week's Judiciary hearing that Democrats had launched a "search and destroy mission" against him fueled by their hatred of Trump.
She said would announce later in the day whether she would support him in the final ballot.
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As she spoke, several hundred anti-Kavanaugh demonstrators chanted on the lawn between the Capitol and the Supreme Court.
Murkowski said later that although she opposes Kavanaugh she will ask to be recorded as "present" during Saturday's confirmation vote to accommodate Republican Sen. The Senate vote delivered an election-season triumph to President Donald Trump that could swing the court rightward for a generation after a battle that rubbed raw the country's cultural, gender and political divides. But the outcome remains uncertain, after one Republican, Lisa Murkowski, voted against moving ahead, while a Democrat, Joe Manchin, cast his ballot in favour.
But even if the House impeaches Kavanaugh, two-thirds of the Senate - a supermajority - would need to vote to remove him following a trial, making the likelihood of his ousting very small. White House Counsel Don McGahn, who helped salvage Kavanaugh's nomination as it teetered, sat in the front row of the visitors' gallery for the vote with deputy White House press secretary Raj Shah. And it was fought against the backdrop of the #MeToo movement and Trump's unyielding support of his nominee and occasional mocking of Kavanaugh's accusers.
"What she did was to come forward and testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee and agree to cooperate with any investigation by the FBI and that's what she sought to do here".
Two women have now accused Mr Kavanaugh of sexual assault when he younger.
Murkowski said she would vote no on his confirmation.
The court has the final say on issues such as abortion and gun control.