Everything on Brett Kavanaugh, the Senate vote and the fallout

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Everything on Brett Kavanaugh, the Senate Vote and the Fallout

Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee last week regarding sexual assault allegations.CreditCreditErin Schaff for The New York Times

By The New York Times

  • Oct. 2, 2018

Updated Oct. 6

The divisive fight in the Senate over President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, reached an end Saturday afternoon, with senators voting 50 to 48 to elevate the judge to the nation’s highest court despite the allegations of sexual assault and misconduct against him.

Judge Kavanaugh was sworn in during a private ceremony Saturday evening.

The confirmation has dominated headlines for weeks, mirroring a country gripped by partisan distrust, inspiring fervent protests among liberals, eliciting angry pushback from conservatives and encouraging women to share personal stories of rape, assault and harassment.

Here’s a guide to coverage of the confirmation from The New York Times.

The Senate vote

The vote, which was interrupted repeatedly by protesters, broke almost entirely along party lines. Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, the only Republican opposed to Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation, voted present instead of no to accommodate a colleague who could not attend and would have voted yes. Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia was the only Democrat to vote to confirm. (See how each senator voted with our vote tally.)

The final result was expected; by Friday afternoon, two key undecided senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Mr. Manchin, had announced that they would vote for Judge Kavanaugh, ensuring his confirmation. Their remarks came after the Senate voted narrowly to limit debate on his nomination and to push to a final vote on Saturday.

In a 45-minute speech on Friday defending Judge Kavanaugh, Ms. Collins, a Republican, warned against abandoning the presumption of innocence in responding to the allegations against him. Her vote on Saturday was a great political risk for Ms. Collins, who already faces a wave of anger from liberal voters at home.

Earlier on Friday, Ms. Murkowski broke with her party and declared her opposition to Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation. (Read the text of the speeches from Ms. Murkowski and Ms. Collins.)

A day before the Senate voted to confirm Judge Kavanaugh, Representative Jerrold Nadler, the Democrat in line to be the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said that, should House Democrats win control of the chamber in November, they would open an investigation into accusations of sexual misconduct and perjury against him.

The charged vote was shaped by the results of the latest F.B.I. investigation into Judge Kavanaugh’s background, which lawmakers received earlier in the week.

The F.B.I. investigation

Here’s what senators have said about the F.B.I.’s findings. The investigation was ordered by Mr. Trump after a request from Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona. Read about the tumultuous 24 hours that caused Mr. Flake to delay the final vote on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination.

Senator Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona, held a key role in the confirmation proceedings.CreditErin Schaff for The New York Times

Democrats criticized the investigation for omitting interviews with key witnesses and have challenged its legitimacy. While the White House ultimately authorized the F.B.I. to interview anyone it deemed necessary, five former Yale classmates of Judge Kavanaugh told The Times that they had tried to offer information to the agency without success.

The White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, advised the president last Sunday to keep the investigation limited, warning that a wide-ranging inquiry could be potentially disastrous for the nominee, according to people familiar with the conversation.

Here is a list of whom the F.B.I. did and did not interview, and here are some of the inconsistencies between the accounts of Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Kavanaugh.

[Make sense of the people, issues and ideas shaping the 2018 elections with our new politics newsletter.]


From left, Deborah Ramirez, Christine Blasey Ford and Julie Swetnick.CreditSafehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence, via Associated Press, Erin Schaff for The New York Times, Michael Avenatti, via Associated Press

The accusations

Three women have publicly accused Judge Kavanaugh of sexual assault or misconduct, including Dr. Blasey, who was the first to come forward.

During a Senate hearing last month, Dr. Blasey, a university professor and research psychologist, described a chilling scene at a high school gathering more than 30 years ago, when, she said, a young, drunken Mr. Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed, tried to rip off her clothes and placed his hand over her mouth to muffle her screams for help. (Here’s our profile of her.)

Deborah Ramirez, who works for a county housing department in Colorado, accused Mr. Kavanaugh of exposing himself to her at a drunken college party. (Here’s our profile of her.)

The third woman, Julie Swetnick, who has held a variety of public- and private-sector jobs, said that Mr. Kavanaugh was “present” when she was raped at a high school party. We debunk five viral rumors about the accusers here.

The allegations have raised several questions about Judge Kavanaugh, including his drinking; references to a woman in his high school yearbook; a letter he wrote to high school friends ahead of a week at the beach; and his involvement in a bar fight years ago.

The reaction

As the accusations emerged, survivors of abuse have shared their stories. Many rallied around a new hashtag, #WhyIDidntReport, which highlights why women often hesitate to reveal harassment or abuse.

Some of the women who have publicly shared such stories include Connie Chung, the longtime television news anchor; Patti Davis, the author and daughter of President Ronald Reagan; and Padma Lakshmi, the television host and A.C.L.U. ambassador for immigration and women’s rights.


Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee to address Dr. Blasey’s sexual assault allegation against the Supreme Court nominee.Published OnSept. 27, 2018CreditCreditImage by Erin Schaff for The New York Times

Americans were transfixed when Dr. Blasey and Judge Kavanaugh offered contrasting stories at the hearing last week.

Dr. Blasey’s understated testimony served as a stark reminder of gender dynamics and of the mental gymnastics required of women who speak up. Judge Kavanaugh’s was a blistering defense, in which he denounced a partisan “frenzy” bent on destroying his nomination.

That fury borrowed from Mr. Trump’s playbook on white male anger. On Tuesday, the president mocked Dr. Blasey at a campaign rally and separately said it was a “very scary time for young men in America” because of what he described as an erosion of due process when it comes to sexual misconduct claims. Republicans launched a new attack on Dr. Blasey’s credibility.

Conservatives saw their effort to confirm Judge Kavanaugh as tied to their fortunes in the midterm elections, perceiving intense liberal opposition to Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination as a way to galvanize Republican voters.

On Friday, Mr. Trump claimed without evidence that some of the women protesting the nominee had been paid to do so.

More than 2,400 law professors have signed a letter opposing the nomination because of Judge Kavanaugh’s performance at the hearing, which also brought renewed attention to a 2006 statement from the American Bar Association raising concerns about his demeanor and veracity.

Mr. Kavanaugh defended his impartiality and independence in an op-ed published in The Wall Street Journal on Thursday night, admitting that he said a few things he should not have during last week’s hearing. He wrote that he was emotional because he was “there as a son, husband and dad.”


In 1991, senators questioned Anita Hill about her accusation that Clarence Thomas, a nominee to the Supreme Court, had sexually harassed her. The questions and remarks that lawmakers made during the hearings are now viewed as a low point for the Senate.Published OnSept. 20, 2018CreditCreditImage by Jennifer Law/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The history

Many see parallels with Anita Hill, who accused Judge Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment during his Supreme Court confirmation process more than a quarter-century ago before he was ultimately confirmed.

Read more about Ms. Hill’s testimony and listen to the episode of “The Daily” that revisits it. Ms. Hill, now a professor at Brandeis University, weighed in herself, writing that, this time around, the Senate Judiciary Committee can “do better.”

The day after Dr. Blasey and Judge Kavanaugh testified, Ms. Hill said that she tried to keep an open mind, “but at the end of the day, I certainly believed her.”

Reporting was contributed by Christina Caron, Daniel Victor, Julia Jacobs, Melissa Gomez, Matthew Haag, Matt Stevens, Niraj Chokshi, Sarah Mervosh and Louis Lucero II.


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