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Brett Kavanaugh nomination inching toward getting back on track

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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 06: Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh leaves for a break during the third day of his Supreme Court confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill September 6, 2018 in Washington, DC. Kavanaugh was nominated by President Donald Trump to fill the vacancy on the court left by retiring Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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  • Republicans plan to move forward with a hearing for
    Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Prof. Christine
    Blasey Ford, who accused him of sexual assault when they were
    both teenagers.
  • Ford has declined to testify until after the
    allegations are investigated by the FBI, echoing Senate
    Democrats.
  • President Donald Trump has so far stayed on message,
    after many Republican aides feared he would go after Ford in
    the same ways he has other women who have accused him of sexual
    misconduct.

WASHINGTON — A chaotic several days on Capitol Hill had Judge
Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to serve on the Supreme Court

hanging by a thread,
as lawmakers began pushing for delaying
votes and several Republican expressed doubt about whether or not
he was going to be confirmed.

But after GOP leaders announced an additional hearing for
Kavanaugh and Prof. Christine Blasey Ford, the woman
accusing him of sexually assaulting her when the two both
teenagers, Republicans have appeared to turn the corner becoming
more optimistic about his chances of confirmation.

While Kavanaugh has vowed to testify in the hearing slated for
Monday, Ford
declined
the invitation until after an FBI investigation is
completed, echoing Senate Democrats’ position. But the FBI is not
planning to launch a probe of the allegations from the early
1980s.

President Donald Trump said on Wednesday before boarding Air
Force One that the Senate Judiciary Committee is going to
take their course” in probing the allegations, not the
FBI.

Ford’s refusal to testify under oath, which Republicans
have made clear can be done either in a public or private
setting, does not bode well for Democrats looking to court the
GOP senators on the fence about Kavanaugh’s nomination.

Sens. Bob Corker and Jeff Flake, who initially called for
delaying the procedural vote to advance Kavanaugh, said the
committee should continue going about its business in moving the
nomination forward if Ford would not testify.

“I would hope that if someone is given the opportunity to voice a
concern that they have that they would do so,” Corker
told reporters
on Tuesday. “So that would be quite something
if she decided she did not want to testify and I would assume the
committee would then move on as they should.”

In addition, Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, who
were delicately considering Kavanaugh over ideological reasons,
took similar positions to Flake and Corker. 

“I think the allegation has been made by Dr. Ford, I think
her story deserves to be heard, and the committee process has
been made available to her,” Murkowski told
CNN
.

Trump has been on message during the scandal

Another factor in Kavanaugh’s nomination not falling apart
is how out of character Trump has been throughout the past week.
S

o far, Trump has deferred all process to the
Senate, while playing up his opinion that Kavanaugh is a decent
family man.

“He has an unblemished record,” Trump said Wednesday. “This
is a very tough thing for him and his family.”

Trump’s restrained approach has shocked Republican aides,
who were worried he

 would go after Ford in ways
he has against other women who have accused him and members of
his administration of sexual misconduct.

Because filling Supreme Court vacancies has been one of
Trump’s biggest issues for the past several years and something
he frequently boasts about on the campaign trail, Kavanaugh’s
confirmation is something he desperately needs, a GOP aide told
Business Insider. 

For others, Trump’s quietness
on the subject has been an absolute gift, but fears he might fly
off the handle still remain.

In the past, Trump has gone after his
nearly two-dozen accusers
in a number of ways, even calling
them too unattractive for him to be interested in, or suggesting
they were lying in order to gain fame.

Kavanaugh is not in the clear yet, though. He still has to face
another marathon grilling from lawmakers, and the
whip count
of senators backing his confirmation remains a
toss-up.

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