Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh insists he’s ‘impartial, independent’

‘My tone was sharp and I said things I should not have’: Kavanaugh admits regret over ’emotional’ Senate hearing testimony, but insists he is ‘wrongly accused’ in last ditch op-ed on eve of SCOTUS vote

  • Kavanaugh insists he’s ‘independent and impartial’ in Wall Street Journal op-ed
  • Judge writes that he ‘might have been too emotional at times’ during angry testimony at Senate Judiciary Committee hearing
  • He denied allegations by Christine Blasey Ford, who says she was assaulted
  • Kavanaugh’s fate is in the hands of four Senators – three moderate Republicans and a Democrat from a red state
  • Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia; Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska; Susan Collins of Maine; and Jeff Flake of Arizona are still undecided
  • Collins and Flake hinted they’re satisfied with supplementary FBI investigation into allegations Kavanaugh sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford in 1980s
  • Murkowski held an emotional hour-long meeting with a group of sexual assault victims in her office  
  • Another swing vote North Dakota Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp said Thursday that she will cast a ‘no’ vote  
  • Party leaders clashed over new FBI background probe results  
  • Senators got their first peek at the new information Thursday under conditions that were highly restrictive  
  • Democrats have criticized the probe for being too narrow 
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Brett Kavanaugh has made an impassioned last minute plea to be selected for the Supreme Court by penning an op-ed expressing his regret at his ‘sharp tone’ at last week’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

In Friday’s Wall Street Journal, the SCOTUS pick makes his personal case to swing Senators, who are expected to vote on the career changing appointment this weekend – with a critical procedural vote Friday and a final confirmation vote on Saturday.

Reminding them he is a committed family man, he insists he will not be a partisan member of the bench but an ‘even-keeled and independent’ justice.

‘I was very emotional last Thursday, more so than I have ever been,’ Kavanaugh writes. ‘I might have been too emotional at times.

‘I know that my tone was sharp, and I said a few things I should not have said.


Brett Kavanaugh (seen above last week in Washington, D.C.) insists that he is an impartial judge despite his angry statements last Thursday accusing Democrats of smearing him to try to derail his confirmation to the Supreme Court







FINAL FOUR: The senators who remain undeclared on Judge Kavanaugh’s nominationinclude (clockwise from top left) Arizona Republican Jeff Flake, West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin, Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski and Maine Republican Susan Collins


 Massive presence: This was the scene in the courtyard of the Hart Office Building,  one of the areas where senators have their offices on Capitol Hill


A group of protesters unfurls a banner which reads: ‘We believe all survivors’

‘I hope everyone can understand that I was there as a son, husband and dad.

‘I testified with five people foremost in my mind: my mom, my dad, my wife, and most of all my daughters.’

Kavanaugh faced criticism for his comments before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week during which he angrily denied allegations of sexual misconduct.

The judge, who once worked on the staff of Independent Counsel Ken Starr during his investigation of President Bill Clinton, said the sexual misconduct allegations that surfaced in recent weeks were ‘revenge on behalf of the Clintons.’ 

Kavanaugh is facing sexual misconduct allegations, including from Christine Blasey Ford, who said he groped her at a party when they were teens and tried to remove her clothes. 

In his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Kavanaugh forcefully denied ever sexually assaulting Ford or anyone else. 

In an emotional statement, he put the blame for the accusations against him partly on the Clintons.

  • First key swing senator says NO to Kavanaugh: Democrat Heidi… Actresses Amy Schumer and Emily Ratajowski are among 302…

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‘This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit,’Kavanaugh testified. 

The 53-year-old said it was being fueled by ‘pent-up anger’ over President Donald Trump’s 2016 election victory and outside groups stoking fear about his judicial record.

Kavanaugh’s comments last Thursday prompted many, among them retired Associate Justice John Paul Stevens, to conclude that he lacks the temperament to sit on the Supreme Court. 


Anne Milgram (far left), a former federal prosecutor, slammed Kavanaugh for the op-ed, saying it showed he lacked the temperament necessary for a Supreme Court justice. She was joined on a CNN panel with journalist Rich Lowry (second from left); journalist Kirsten Powers (second from right); and former GOP spokesperson Tara Setmayer

But in the Wall Street Journal op-ed, Kavanaugh tried to strike a more diplomatic tone.

‘My hearing testimony was forceful and passionate,’ Kavanaugh wrote on Thursday.

‘That is because I forcefully and passionately denied the allegation against me. At times, my testimony – both in my opening statement and in response to questions – reflected my overwhelming frustration at being wrongly accused, without corroboration, of horrible conduct completely contrary to my record and character.

‘My statement and answers also reflected my deep distress at the unfairness of how this allegation has been handled.’

Kavanaugh insists that if he is confirmed to the bench, he will shed his partisan image.

‘Going forward, you can count on me to be the same kind of judge and person I have been for my entire 28-year legal career: hardworking, even-keeled, open-minded, independent and dedicated to the Constitution and the public good,’ he writes. 

‘As a judge, I have always treated colleagues and litigants with the utmost respect. I have been known for my courtesy on and off the bench. I have not changed.’ 

It is considered extremely rare for a Supreme Court nominee to write op-ed pieces in a newspaper and to conduct interviews with the press, as Kavanaugh did with the Fox News channel last month, critics say.

Kavanaugh’s op-ed only proves what opponents of his confirmation have been saying – that he is too partisan to serve as a justice.

Anne Milgram, a former federal prosecutor, told CNN that she believes Kavanaugh’s conduct is disqualifying.

‘This is the United States Supreme Court, and you do not get to sit on that court, in my view, by going up and yelling at United States Senators,’ she told CNN. 

‘This is hurting the institution of the Supreme Court. 

‘This feels also very political to me, justices don’t write op-eds. 

‘I’m troubled by so many parts of this.’

Senator Richard Blumenthal told Anderson Cooper: ‘This op-ed in no way removes the issue of temperament.

‘That testimony was written, carefully prepared, planned, premeditated – not some emotional outburst,” Blumenthal told CNN. 

‘Judges are supposed to put emotions aside.’ 

GOP confidence that Kavanaugh would be appointed seemed high on Thursday night after the FBI report into misconduct claims against him unearthed no new evidence.   

Republicans are moving forward with plans for a key procedural vote on Friday and a final vote on Saturday which would confirm the conservative federal appeals judge for a lifetime job on the top U.S. court.

 Republicans control the Senate by a 51-49 margin.


North Dakota Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp said Thursday that she will cast a ‘no’ vote on Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination; she first announced her decision on WDAY-TV in Fargo

No Republicans have said they will vote against Kavanaugh, although three have not committed to supporting him.

WHO THE FBI ARE KNOWN TO HAVE QUESTIONED IN THE KAVANAUGH PROBE


Accuser Debbie Ramirez

She says Kavanaugh exposed himself during a dorm party in their freshman year at Yale. Her attorney says she gave a list of 20 potential witnesses to the FBI

Kavanaugh friend Mark Judge

Man who Christine Blasey Ford says was in the room when Kavanaugh tried to rape her. His attorney said his interview spread over Monday and Tuesday. 


Judge, a recovering alcoholic, has denied being present at any such event and said he believed his high school friend’s innocence. He also denied claims that he and Kavanaugh spiked drinks with drugs and were present during third accuser Julie Swetnick’s alleged gang rape

Kavanaugh friend Tim Gaudette


His house was the venue for a mid-week ‘skis’ (beers) party on July 1, 1982, according to Kavanaugh’s calendars. Ford described a party with an almost identical list of attendees. His attorney confirmed an interview but did not say what Gaudette told agents.


 

Kavanaugh friend P.J. Smyth


He was named by Ford as being at the party downstairs when she was sexually assaulted, and featured on the July 1 ‘skis’ night list of attendees. Has previously said he did not recall such an event.


Kavanaugh friend Chris ‘Squi’ Garrett

Has been named by Ford as someone she was dating in the summer of 1982, and is on the list of attendees of the ‘skis’ party. His attorney says he spoke to the FBI but did not disclose his evidence.

Ford friend Leland Keyser


Ford said her longtime friend was at the party where she alleges she was assaulted and was downstairs at the time.  Has denied any memory of such an event but Ford said Leland sent a text message saying she believed her.

The fate of Kavanaugh’s nomination now lies in the hands of a quartet of senators: Republicans Susan Collins of Maine; Jeff Flake of Arizona and Lisa Murkowski and West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin.

Comments by two of them – Flake and Collins – indicated the FBI report, which was the latest twist in the pitched political battle over Kavanaugh, may have allayed their concerns about him.

Flake, a frequent Trump critic, was instrumental in getting the president to order the FBI investigation last Friday.

A third key Republican swing vote, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, reportedly met with sexual assault survivors from her home state on Thursday.

Murkowski met on Thursday with more than a dozen female constituents who shared their stories of being victimized in sexual assaults, according to MSNBC.

The Alaska Senator hosted dozens of women in her office on Capitol Hill for more than an hour in what was described as an ’emotional’ meeting. 

The one undeclared Democrat, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, indicated there would be no decision from him before Friday.

He told reporters in the Capitol on Thursday afternoon that he’ll return to read more of the FBI report on the Kavanaugh allegations Friday morning. 

If half of the four swing votes go in Kavanaugh’s favor, the GOP will have enough for Vice President Pence’s tiebreaker to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by Justice Anthony Kennedy’s summer retirement.

A previous swing voter North Dakota Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp said Thursday that she will cast a ‘no’ vote when the full Senate convenes to decide on Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination.

Heitkamp, a Democrat from a traditionally conservative and Republican-leaning state, was thought to be leaning toward supporting Kavanaugh. 

‘The process has been bad,’ Heitkamp told her home-state WDAY-TV. 

‘But at the end of the day you have to make a decision, and I’ve made that decision.’

‘I will be voting no on Judge Kavanaugh.’

In a statement minutes later, Heitkamp said that ‘[i]n addition to the concerns about his past conduct, last Thursday’s hearing called into question Judge Kavanaugh’s current temperament, honesty, and impartiality.’

The state of play could also be complicated by Republican Senator Steve Daines, whose office said on Thursday he planned to attend his daughter’s wedding in Montana on Saturday, making him unavailable to cast his vote in the expected confirmation hearing.

 It is unclear what the GOP will do if the vote is so close that Daines is vote is necessary to get Kavanaugh confirmed.

Senate Republicans and Democrats engaged in angry clashes Thursday over the quickly completed FBI background investigation into sex assault allegations against Kavanaugh. 

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters Thursday afternoon that the FBI report ‘did not corroborate any of the allegations against Judge Kavanaugh.’

He complained about the Democrats stalling for time, saying that ‘there’s no way anything we did would satisfy the Democrats. They’ve always got a reason why the goalposts have got to be moved farther down the field.’

‘They’re dug in,’ he claimed. 

Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley scolded the press, saying that when reporters came to his office to interview protesters, they only sought to speak to activists who opposed Kavanaugh.

‘That’s a bias that none of you should be proud of!’ the normally calm Iowan boomed.


Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, told reporters that a hotly contested FBI report ‘did not corroborate any of the allegations against Judge Kavanaugh’


Protesters hold up signs during a protest against Kavanaugh outside the Supreme Court on Thursday


Protesters swamped Capitol Hill on Thursday, holding anti-Kavanaugh demonstrations inside, outside and near U.S. Senate buildings

Protesters swamped the Capitol again on Thursday, holding anti-Kavanaugh demonstrations inside and outside U.S. Senate buildings.

Some Republican senators have expressed unease over protesters who have confronted them inside their offices, restaurants, airports and even outside their homes. They discussed security matters behind closed doors earlier this week at a private lunch.

United States Capitol Police have arrested dozens of protesters in recent days and stepped up their presence in Capitol hallways. 

The impassioned fight over Kavanaugh’s nomination has also led to heightened security at the Capitol, with some senators using police escorts to shield them from protesters.

Elevators have become potential flashpoints after Flake was successfully confronted in one last Friday morning by two sexual assault survivors. 

The experience led to one of the most dramatic twists in the Kavanaugh saga, with Flake saying just after that he wouldn’t be comfortable with a vote until the FBI had conducted an investigation into assault allegations.

Grassley said Thursday that the Kavanaugh confirmation process had gone quickly downhill when Minority Leader Chuck Schumer pledged early on that ‘we’re going to do everything we can to stop this nomination.’

‘They just about destroyed a good person,’ he complained.

Texas Sen. John Cornyn insisted that at the conclusion of the FBI’s probe, ‘there has been no one to corroborate the allegations make by Dr. Ford or Ms. Ramirez,’ the second Kavanaugh accuser.

And Orrin Hatch, a committee Republican from Utah, blasted Democrats for putting Kavanaugh ‘through this type of a mess just because they are unhappy that Donald Trump had the right to appoint him.’


WATCH YOUR STEP: A deidcated security guard was traveling with Sen. Susan Collins on Wednesday


The officer traveling with Collings stood watch as  she and Sen. Corey Booker of New Jersey boarded an elevator in the Capitol on Wednesday, as well


A demonstrator is detained as activists rally inside the Senate Hart Office Building during a protest in opposition Kavanugh on Thursday


Protesters hold signs which read ‘We Will Not Be Silent’ and ‘This is a coverup, not an investigation’

Senate Democrats said their fears had been realized after the FBI delivered documents to the chamber. They demanded everything be made public.

They fumed it was ‘limited’ and ‘incomplete’ and accused the White House of constraining agents from questioning both Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, whose own attorneys called it a ‘stain on the FBI.’

‘Republicans have already declared there wasn’t a “hint” of misconduct’ documented by the FBI, said California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the committee’s ranking Democrat..

‘But based on our briefing and review of the documents, despite the obvious restrictions that were placed on the investigation, that is not true.’

After accessing the FBI report Thursday morning, several Democrats questioned the investigation’s thoroughness.

‘I read the FBI report. This whole thing is a sham. This stunted, strangled investigation was designed to provide cover, not to provide the truth,’ Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley told NBC News.

Democrats have repeatedly questioned why more witnesses weren’t interviewed by FBI agents, who were reported to have only spoke to nine people in their five-day review of allegations against Kavanaugh.

Democratic Sen. Ed Markey charged that the White House and Senate Republicans orchestrated a halfhearted FBI probe to protect Kavanaugh.

‘It’s obviously a cover-up,’ Markey told CNN. 

‘The Trump White House, working with the Republican leadership in the Senate, have deliberately circumscribed this investigation.’


Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch complained that Democrats opposed Kavanaugh solely because they were angry President Donald Trump had won the 2016 election, and the right to appoint Supreme Court justices


‘It appears to be a very thorough investigation,’ said Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins


The Republicans who spoke Thursday said they believe Kavanaugh is a good man who was ‘smeared’ by Democrats playing dirty politics

But Republicans shot back there was no witness list on their part and the FBI could interview whoever it pleased.

‘We did not come up with a list of people who the FBI should interview. The FBI was requested to conduct an investigation into any and all credible, current accusations of sexual misconduct by Judge Kavanaugh and the FBI made the decision as to who to interview,’ said GOP Sen. Mike Lee. 

The vote will decide the make-up of the nation’s highest court for years to come. Kavanaugh’s confirmation will cement conservative control of the judicial system, giving Trump’s party the upper hand in legal disputes that will define the next generation.


Democrats demanded that the ‘very limited’ FBI background investigation of Kavanaugh and sexual assault allegations be made public in a redacted form


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is on the verge of installing Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, having previously shepherded conservative Neil Gorsuch there and prevented President Obama from filling a vacancy


The report finds no corroboration to Ford’s claims that Kavanaugh pinned her down, tried to pull her clothes off, then covered her mouth as she called out, sources say

HOW SENATE IS READING THE KAVANAUGH FBI REPORT

The Senate received the results of the FBI ‘supplemental background investigation’ into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh early Thursday.

Republican lawmakers took part in the initial review of the restricted, single copy report between 8am-9am, with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, Chuck Grassley going first.

By 9am, Democratic senators accessed the report, with California Senator Dianne Feinstein to start, as the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee/

No photographs are allowed of it and any notes made from it have to stay in the room.


Secure room: Behind these doors is the Secure Compartmentalized Information Facility – known as a SCIF – where senators will read the report.

Following initial review, all 100 senators will alternate. Alternating one copy of an FBI report between senators is typical for judicial nominees, Republican aides said in a statement.

Also briefed on its contents are 10 Senate staffers who can then brief other senators. 

Senators are not permitted to discuss the specific contents of the document with anyone who has not seen it. 

The review of the 302 form takes place in a Sensitive Compartmentalized Information Facility in the basement of the Capitol.

Having the single copy viewed in a secure room will supposedly help to stop leaks, which are expected to hit within seconds of the document arriving in the building, if not before. 

 


Democrats have already raised concerns that the White House limited the FBI investigation and that key suspects were not interviewed (pictured, protesters outside the Supreme Court)


Dems are also expected to attack Kavanaugh on wider concerns that he lied to senators during sworn testimony (pictured, protesters in Washington DC)

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