Senate poised to confirm Kavanaugh after bitter fight

The Senate is set to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court during a rare Saturday session, marking the end of a deeply partisan and rancorous fight that has rocked some senators' confidence in the upper chamber.

The vote is expected to hand President TrumpDonald John TrumpPompeo changes staff for Russia meeting after concerns raised about top negotiator's ties: report House unravels with rise of 'Les Enfants Terrible' Ben Carson: Trump is not a racist and his comments were not racist MORE and Senate Republicans their second Supreme Court justice in as many years and deliver a significant victory a month before a midterm election where control of Congress hangs in the balance.

"The mob was not able to intimidate the Senate. We stood up to the mob. We did the right thing for a good man and filled a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - A raucous debate on race ends with Trump admonishment White House, Congress inch toward debt, budget deal Republicans scramble to contain Trump fallout MORE (R-Ky.) said while taking an early victory lap during an appearance Friday night on Fox News.

The Senate voted to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination on Friday morning. Under the chamber’s rules senators can debate the nomination for an additional 30 hours, making a final confirmation vote tentatively scheduled for around 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.

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The final vote comes two days after the FBI handed over its report on the sexual misconduct allegations that threw Kavanaugh’s vote into chaos. Democrats argued the White House limited and undercut the FBI report; Republicans countered that it showed no corroboration to the sexual assault allegation from Christine Blasey Ford, Kavanaugh’s first accuser.

Absent an eleventh-hour surprise in a confirmation fight beset for weeks by unexpected twists, Kavanaugh has locked down the votes needed to be confirmed after three key undecided senators announced on Friday that they would support him.

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsTrump angry more Republicans haven't defended his tweets: report Republicans scramble to contain Trump fallout The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump digs in ahead of House vote to condemn tweet MORE (R-Maine), in a widely watched floor speech on Friday afternoon, gave Kavanaugh his crucial 50th Senate vote.

Collins said while she believed that Ford had been assaulted, if senators rejected Kavanaugh over uncorroborated accusations it would be "hugely damaging to this confirmation process."

"This debate is complicated further by the fact that the Senate confirmation process is not a trial ... but certain fundamental legal principles about due process, the presumption of innocence and fairness do bear on my thinking and I cannot abandon them," Collins said.

Her announcement came hours after Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeFlake urges Republicans to condemn 'vile and offensive' Trump tweets Flake responds to Trump, Jimmy Carter barbs: 'We need to stop trying to disqualify each other' Jeff Flake responds to Trump's 'greener pastures' dig on former GOP lawmakers MORE (R-Ariz.) confirmed that he would vote for Kavanaugh. Shortly after Collins’s announcement, Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinTrump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand Kentucky Democrat says primary challenge to McGrath 'might be helpful' McConnell's Democratic challenger McGrath backtracks on Kavanaugh comments MORE (D-W.Va.) said that he would also support Kavanaugh’s nomination.

Manchin, who is running for reelection in a state Trump won by 42 points in 2016, is the only Democrat expected to support Kavanaugh on Saturday. Manchin was one of three Democrats last year to support Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s first nominee to the high court.

With Republicans holding a one-seat majority, they could have lost one Republican senator before they needed help from Democrats to confirm Kavanaugh.

Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiOvernight Defense: Highlights from Defense pick's confirmation hearing | Esper spars with Warren over ethics | Sidesteps questions on Mattis vs. Trump | Trump says he won't sell F-35s to Turkey Epstein charges show Congress must act to protect children from abuse PBS premieres first nationally distributed kids' show with Native American lead MORE (R-Alaska) on Friday evening became the only Republican senator to say that she would oppose Kavanaugh.

"I believe that Judge Kavanaugh is a good man. He's a good man. ... But, in my conscience, because that's how I have to vote ... I could not conclude that he is the right person for the court at this time," Murkowski said during a speech on the Senate floor on Friday night.

She added that she kept going back to Code of Conduct for United States Judges, which says that judges should act in a way at all times that upholds the "public confidence" and avoids "the appearance of impropriety."

"After the hearing that we watched last week, last Thursday, it ... was becoming clearer that appearance of impropriety has become unavoidable," she said, referencing Kavanaugh's combative testimony before the Judiciary Committee in which he repeatedly clashed with Democratic members of the panel.

Murkowski said that while she opposed Kavanaugh's nomination, she would have her vote be marked as "present" as a courtesy to offset the absence of fellow GOP Sen. Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesTwo GOP lawmakers back Trump's comments on Democratic lawmakers: 'I'll pay for their tickets out of this country' Former Navy officer, teacher enters race to unseat GOP senator in Montana Democratic senators want candidates to take Swalwell's hint and drop out MORE (Mont.). Daines, who said he planned to vote for Kavanaugh, left Washington, D.C., on Friday to fly to Montana for his daughter’s wedding on Saturday.

The Alaska Republican is planning to “pair” her vote with Daines, which will let her initially vote “no,” and then withdraw that and change her vote to “present.” The maneuver keeps the vote margin for Kavanaugh’s confirmation the same as if Daines were there for the vote.

The months-long fight over Kavanaugh’s nomination marks one of the most bitter and partisan Supreme Court battles in recent history. Even with Murkowski voting “present,” the final vote margin for Kavanaugh is expected to be the narrowest since Stanley Matthews was confirmed in a 24-23 vote in 1881.

Democrats don’t have the ability to block Kavanaugh’s nomination on their own. But they spent Friday night into Saturday using a rare all-night floor session to lash out at how Republicans have handled Kavanaugh and the sexual misconduct allegations against him.

Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseOvernight Energy: Scientists flee USDA as research agencies move to Kansas City area | Watchdog finds EPA skirted rules to put industry reps on boards | New rule to limit ability to appeal pollution permits Dem senators demand GOP judicial group discloses donors Senate Democrats skipping Pence's border trip MORE (D-R.I.) called Republicans' tactics against Ford a “relentless, indirect bank shot smear.”

But Kavanaugh’s nomination had already spiraled into a partisan brawl before Ford came forward last month with her accusation that Kavanaugh, who denies wrongdoing, sexually assaulted her during a high school party in the early 1980s.

Democrats and their progressive allies had raised the alarm over a myriad of issues where they worry that Kavanaugh will provide conservatives a fifth vote, including abortion and potentially protecting Trump from any court cases that spawn out of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTop Republican considered Mueller subpoena to box in Democrats Kamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump MORE’s investigation into potential collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign.

“He should have announced that he would recuse himself from any case involving the president who appointed him,” Sen. Angus KingAngus Stanley KingOvernight Defense: Highlights from Defense pick's confirmation hearing | Esper spars with Warren over ethics | Sidesteps questions on Mattis vs. Trump | Trump says he won't sell F-35s to Turkey Five things to watch for at Defense nominee's confirmation hearing Congress mobilizes on cyber threats to electric grid MORE (I-Maine), who caucuses with Democrats, said during the Senate’s all-night session.