Senate leaders in both parties turned up their verbal attacks on each other Tuesday, as Republicans vowed to hold a vote by the end of the week on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, while Democrats urged a full review by the FBI, calling for Senators to receive a special briefing on extra interviews being conducted by federal agents related to allegations leveled against Kavanaugh.
“We need to be briefed by the FBI,” Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer told reporters after a closed door lunch meeting of his party’s Senators, as Democrats said they were concerned the GOP might push ahead with a vote before the details of the FBI’s review of Kavanaugh is finished.
Democrats also bristled at the charge from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that Kavanaugh opponents were responsible for the current delay in action on his nomination, saying that Democrats don’t have the votes to block Kavanaugh on their own, and pointedly noting how McConnell and Republicans never acted on the Supreme Court nominee of President Barack Obama, federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland.
“We have no power of delay,” said Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer.
“He is the master of delay,” Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) said of McConnell.
For a second straight day, the Majority Leader came to the Senate floor and issued a blistering review of Democratic actions related to the Kavanaugh nomination, accusing Democrats of throwing any available mud at the President’s nominee.
“This has been the most outrageous – as earlier colleagues put it – ‘search and destroy mission,’ to just take out a man’s reputation,” McConnell told reporters. “The whole effort is just despicable.”
On the Senate floor Tuesday morning, McConnell again pledged to hold a vote this week – in order to do that though, he will have to get the procedural wheels turning soon in the Senate in order to shut off debate (invoke cloture), and then force a final vote after another 30 hours of debate.
For example, if the GOP wants a vote on Kavanaugh on Friday, then McConnell would have to file a cloture petition on Tuesday, which would ‘ripen’ for a vote by Thursday, and pave the way for a final vote on Friday. A cloture petition on Wednesday would allow for a final vote by Saturday.
At the White House, President Donald Trump again made clear that he was still on board with Kavanaugh, arguing it could help the GOP in November.
“It’s like a rallying cry for the Republicans,” the President said.
“I think that Judge Kavanaugh is doing pretty well over the last 24 hours,” the President said, dismissing questions about Kavanaugh’s somewhat strident and political statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee last week.
“I think he will be totally impartial – I think he’s a great judge,” Mr. Trump added.
In remarks to reporters at the White House, before leaving for a speech in Philadelphia, and a later campaign rally in Mississippi, the President also bemoaned what he says is a developing culture where men can be unjustifiably accused of sexual misconduct.
Mr. Trump made clear he’s ready for a vote on Kavanaugh – when that will take place remains unclear.