Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said Friday that she intends to vote "present" on the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, so that Sen. Republican Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Susan Collins of ME and West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin all said they meant to back Kavanaugh, putting him on track for confirmation barring a last-minute development. Flake spent a large portion of the afternoon reviewing the Federal Bureau of Investigation work and said he saw no new evidence to corroborate any of the claims against Kavanaugh, which Flake had previously indicated would mean he will vote to confirm.
In a signed declaration, he shared an account of two interactions he had with Ford in which she spoke about Kavanaugh's alleged sexual assault years before he was nominated to the Supreme Court.
Though they reached opposite conclusions, both women had faced similar political pressure heading into Friday's key vote on Kavanaugh's high court nomination.
Republican Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, a member of the GOP leadership, said he would be "very surprised" if Murkowski switches her vote. Joe Manchin, Democrat of West Virginia, voted yes, and Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who is not seeking re-election, also voted yes on cloture.
A final vote could come Saturday on President Donald Trump's embattled nominee, who if approved would seal a conservative majority on the nine-seat court for decades.
Democrats meanwhile condemned the investigation - the parameters of which were reportedly set by the White House - as preordained. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., have promised that if they win in the midterms, they will take over the investigation into Kavanaugh's background.
Calling for a "a careful examination of the accusations and facts by the FBI" does not equate to believing "Kavanaugh is unfit for the Supreme Court" as the tweet claims.
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Murkowski was re-elected in 2016 and Senators serve six-year terms, so she will be in office until at least 2022.
Manchin, a red-state Democrat, earlier also voted yes to advance Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to a vote in the full Senate. Dick Durbin on Friday said his confirmation "would shake the confidence of millions of Americans and the integrity of our Supreme Court".
But emotional testimony Ford delivered to the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, and the judge's own explosive and partisan performance, raised doubts about his temperament and left his hopes hanging by a thread.
Tensions are high at the Capitol, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is pushing ahead with little room for error. Referring to the judge's sworn response to Ford's testimony, Markey said, "We heard anger".
About an hour after Collins' announcement, Jen Psaki, communication director at the Obama White House, asked in a tweet "who wants to run for Senate in ME? there will be an army of supporters with you".
One Democrat, Manchin, voted with Republicans to end debate and move the nomination forward.
During her whistlestop five-hour stay, the US First Lady met with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and his wife, first lady Entissar Mohameed Amer, before heading to the nearby city of Giza to see the pyramids and Sphinx where she highlighted US-backed preservation efforts there.
Still, she sent signals that Kavanaugh had cleared a hurdle by reassuring her that he believed the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision on abortion rights is settled law.