Anti-Kavanaugh Vigils Held Across US as Senators Await FBI Report
CAPITOL HILL —
Hundreds of vigils were held across the United States Wednesday with marchers hoping to persuade senators to vote against confirming Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
Reports say the FBI has completed its latest investigation into allegations Kavanaugh sexually assaulted Dr. Christine Blasey Ford at a party when they were in high school.
Two other women also accuse Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct. The judge denies all the allegations made against him.
The FBI is expected to have over its report to lawmakers before they vote, but the report's findings are not intended to be made public.
Late Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell set a threshold vote for Friday on Kavanaugh’s nomination, moving the Senate toward a potential confirmation roll call over the weekend.
McConnell said the FBI would deliver to the Senate the results of its investigation into claims that Kavanaugh sexually abused women. With Republicans holding a thin 51-49 majority and five senators, including three Republicans, not committed to approving Kavanaugh, the conservative jurist’s prospects of Senate confirmation remained murky.
Also Wednesday, the National Council of Churches, a coalition of 38 denominations, released a statement saying Kavanaugh should withdraw his nomination. The group's statement said he showed "extreme partisan bias," showing that he lacks the temperament to serve on the nation's highest court, during his testimony last week before the Senate Judicial Committee.
More than 650 law professors from across the country also signed a letter, which will be sent to the Senate on Thursday in The New York Times, urging lawmakers to reject Kavanaugh's nomination. Their letter said, he "displayed a lack of judicial temperament that would be disqualifying for any court, and certainly for election to the highest court of the land."
No Democrat has come out in favor of the judge and three key Republicans have yet to commit themselves on how they plan to vote.
Those three Republicans, along with a number of other senators, have criticized President Donald Trump over his remarks at a campaign rally mocking Ford.
"His comments were just plain wrong," Maine's Susan Collins said Wednesday.
Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski called the remarks "wholly inappropriate and in my view unacceptable."
Arizona's Jeff Flake — who insisted on a weeklong delay in a confirmation vote so the FBI can have another investigation — called Trump's remarks" appalling."
Addressing thousands of supporters at a Mississippi rally, Trump gave his own re-enactment of Ford's responses to questions at last week's Senate hearing where she testified that Kavanaugh assaulted her.
"I had one beer!" he said, impersonating Ford. "How did you get home? I don't remember. How did you get there? I don't remember. Where is the place? I don't remember. How many years ago was it? I don't know. I don't know. I don't know!"
"Upstairs, downstairs where was it? I don't know," he said in front of laughing supporters.
Ford told Senate Judiciary Committee that, despite some memory lapses, she was "100 percent certain" it was a drunken Kavanaugh who pinned her to a bed, groped her, and put his hand over her mouth to muffle her screams for help. Kavanaugh testified he has never assaulted anyone and complained he is the victim of a "political hit" to destroy his reputation.
White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump was merely stating the facts of the case and remains confident in his nominee.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, blasted the president's mockery of Ford as "reprehensible, beneath the office of the presidency, and beneath common decency from one person to another."
If confirmed, Kavanaugh — an appellate judge and judicial conservative — would replace retired Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. The nine-member court is currently operating with eight justices.
Richard Green contributed to this report.