McConnell takes key step toward Kavanaugh vote


US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Hours before Trump's speech, Ford's lawyers sent a letter to FBI Director Chris Wray saying they've received no response from anyone involved in the reopened background investigation Kavanaugh. The incident happened in 1985 when Kavanaugh, an undergrad at Yale at the time, mistook a 21-year-old man at a local bar for Ali Campbell, the lead singer of UB40 (who had performed in the area that night), and allegedly threw ice and a beer at him, causing injury.

Senator Flake was instrumental last week in getting Mr Trump to order an FBI investigation into the allegations against Mr Kavanaugh, after he was confronted in a lift by victims of sexual assault.

If confirmed, Kavanaugh - an appellate judge and judicial conservative - would replace retired Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. Jeff Flake of Arizona said on NBC's Today show that the remarks were "kind of appalling".

As Republicans fight headwinds ahead of the November 6 midterm elections, Trump sought to rally his supporters behind Republican Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, who was appointed to fill the seat of Thad Cochran, who retired in April.

During the hearing, Dr Christine Blasey Ford testified that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her decades ago when the two were in high school.

The President's remarks also offered an opening to critics of the Kavanaugh nomination, including Democratic Sen. A key part of Flake's drive to push for an Federal Bureau of Investigation probe was to have a more transparent public process. That's the only thing I remember.

The developments come after the three Republican senators who could be key to whether Kavanaugh is confirmed - Jeff Flake, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski - assailed Trump for mocking Ford at a political rally in MS on Tuesday.

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When she spoke before the Senate committee last Thursday, Prof Ford recalled that the house where the alleged assault took place was in the Chevy Chase-Bethesda area in the Washington DC suburbs. He has denied the allegations. I don't know. Where's the house?

Other women have also come forward with allegations against Kavanaugh, including Deborah Ramirez, who told The New Yorker that she remembers Kavanaugh exposing himself to her at a dormitory party.

Flake is a key GOP vote in the confirmation battle, and while he said last week he would vote to confirm Kavanaugh, he also called for an expanded FBI investigation that resulted in a one-week delay.

The Wall St Journal reported that the White House found no corroboration of sexual misconduct allegations against nominee Kavanaugh.

Asked whether Mr Trump's comments would affect her vote, Senator Murkowski told reporters, "I am taking everything into account".

As he flew aboard Air Force One to the MS rally, Trump was also enraged by stories in The New York Times about Kavanaugh's high school and college years and alleging tax avoidance efforts by the president and his family, according to a person familiar with the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

"This is unfair. What they're doing to this good, decent man can not stand", Graham said. She said a drunken Kavanaugh and a friend of his, Mark Judge, pushed her into a bedroom, that Kavanaugh pinned her down and muffled her cries as he tried to pull off her clothes. I don't know. Upstairs, downstairs, where was it? In that light, they say it can't be called an investigation.

"I don't have all the answers, and I don't remember as much as I would like to", she said. After that, the Republican committee members will see it at 10:00 and the Democrats at 11:00. "I never saw Brett black out or not be able to remember the prior evening's events, nor did I ever see Brett act aggressive, hostile or in a sexually aggressive manner to women", wrote one of them, Dan Murphy, a former suitemate of Kavanaugh.