Senate near Kavanaugh approval after epic struggle

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But even if the House impeaches Kavanaugh, two-thirds of the Senate - a supermajority - would need to vote to remove him following a trial, making the likelihood of his ousting very small.

It would be a cruel irony if Manchin voted for Kavanaugh and helped save his nomination while a Republican, Murkowski, voted against him, but given that he is up for reelection in a state where Trump remains popular, it is a distinct possibility.

Speaking on the eve of Kavanaugh's confirmation vote this weekend, Nadler said there was evidence that Senate Republicans and the FBI had overseen a "whitewash" investigation of the allegations and the legitimacy of the Supreme Court was at stake.

Alaska's Lisa Murkowski, the only Republican to oppose the nominee, voted "present", offsetting the absence of Kavanaugh supporter Steve Daines of Montana, who was attending his daughter's wedding.

Despite deciding against the nominee on Friday, she told reporters afterwards she has still not made up her mind on the confirmation vote, according to Reuters news agency. That left unclear whether Friday's tally signalled that the 53-year-old federal appellate judge was on his way to the nation's highest court, though it would be unusual for lawmakers to switch their votes on such a high-profile issue.

Noisy to the end, the Senate battle featured a call of the roll that was interrupted several times by protesters shouting in the spectators' gallery before Capitol Police removed them.

Following the vote, President Trump said that he is "very proud" that the Senate has cleared the way to hold a vote on Kavanaugh.

Mr Flake told reporters that unless "something big" changes, he will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh.

Manchin, a red-state Democrat, earlier also voted yes to advance Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to a vote in the full Senate.

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If the senators split 50-50, vice president Mike Pence would break the tie in Kavanaugh's favour, in what would be an unprecedented move to install a supreme court justice.

Kavanaugh's opponents raised concerns that he'd push the court further right, including possible sympathetic rulings for Trump.

Three female GOP senators - Iowa's Jodi Ernst, West Virginia's Shelley Moore Capito and Mississippi's Cindy Hyde-Smith - sat directly behind Collins as she spoke. She said on the Senate floor late Friday that Kavanaugh is "a good man" but his "appearance of impropriety has become unavoidable".

President Donald Trump was quick to tweet his support of the nominee.

"If young boys behave well and with respect, they have nothing to worry about", Grossi said.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of NY called the fight "a sorry epilogue to the brazen theft of Justice Scalia's seat". Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, who was considered a swing got on Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination, but would be protesters arrived Friday to find the office locked.

After his scheduled hearing last month, Judge Kavanaugh was embroiled in a major controversy when a professor from California, Christine Blasey Ford, alleged that she was assaulted by him when they were both teenagers in 1982.

Yet Kavanaugh's pathway to confirmation seemed unfettered until Ford and two other women emerged with sexual misconduct allegations from the 1980s.

Judge Kavanaugh and Ford both gave emotional testimonies regarding her allegations.

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