US Senate panel set to vote on Supreme Court nominee

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Washington, Sep 28 (IANS) The US Senate Judiciary Committee is set to vote later on Friday on President Donald Trump’s embattled Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

The vote follows a dramatic testimony on Thursday by Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who accused him of sexual assault while both were teenagers.

Ford described the alleged 1982 attack in detail saying it had “drastically” affected her life. However, Kavanaugh denied assaulting her or anyone.

Trump has urged the full Senate to approve his nominee in a vote expected next week. Republicans currently have a majority of 51-49, but the outcome is far from certain with a number of senators on both sides undecided, CNN reported.

After the committee votes, the current plan is to hold a procedural vote on the Senate floor on Saturday and hold the final vote later, the reports said.

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“I think he was incredibly powerful and very clear,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said of Kavanaugh during an appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America”.

She said that Ford was mistaken about her attacker and said Kavanaugh has “been unequivocal since Day One that this did not take place by him”.

Asked whether Trump had the votes to confirm Kavanaugh, Sanders said: “I certainly hope so, and I certainly think so. We have to move forward in this process. Judge Kavanaugh deserves a vote.”

The Thursday hearing brought an outpouring of support for Ford, a university professor, from the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and assault.

“I am terrified. I am here because I believe it is my civic duty to tell you what happened to me while Brett Kavanaugh and I were in high school.”

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She alleged Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge had locked her in a bedroom during a small gathering at a house in a Washington suburb in the summer of 1982, when she was 15 and Brett Kavanaugh was 17.

Ford said Kavanaugh had tried to remove her clothing, pinned her to a bed and groped her. Both men were “drunkenly laughing”.

Reacting to Ford’s allegations, Kavanaugh said that he would not be “intimidated” into withdrawing from the process. He was accused by several other women of sexual assault.

However, Trump repeatedly defended the judge’s character, saying he was “one of the highest quality people” he had ever met.

Thousands of protesters against Kavanaugh’s nomination took to the streets and 59 people were arrested near the Supreme Court in Washington.

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–IANS

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