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The Latest: ABA urges Senate to slow down on Kavanaugh votes

September 28, 2018
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The motorcade transporting President Donald Trump drives down Pennsylvania Avenue heading towards the Trump Hotel in Washington on Thursday, Aug. 27, 2018. Trump is having a private meeting and dinner with supports (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh (all times local):

1:30 a.m.

The American Bar Association has urged the Senate Judiciary Committee and the full Senate to slow down on the vote on Brett Kavanaugh for a position on the Supreme Court until the FBI has time to do a full background check on claims of sexual assault made by Christine Blasey (blah-zee) Ford and other women.

“We make this request because of the ABA’s respect for the rule of law and due process under law,” the ABA letter to committee leadership said. “Each appointment to our nation’s highest court (as with all others) is simply too important to rush to a vote.”

The Judiciary committee plans a vote on Kavanaugh Friday.

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11:40 p.m.

Alabama Sen. Doug Jones, a moderate Democrat, said he is voting “no” on Brett Kavenaugh’s bid for the Supreme Court. Jones said: “The Kavanaugh nomination process has been flawed from the beginning.” He said Dr. Christine Blasey (blah-zee) Ford was credible and courageous in her claim that she was sexually assaulted by Kavenaugh years ago. And he said late Thursday that he is concerned about the message the vote will be sending to sons and daughters, as well as victims of sexual assault.

Christine Blasey Ford says she doesn't have any political motivation for coming forward with accusations of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh when they were teenagers. (Sept. 27)

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10:15 p.m.

President Donald Trump described Thursday’s heated Senate hearing as “brutal” and “hard to watch” during an evening GOP fundraiser.

But Trump also praised Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s performance defending himself against allegations of sexual assault.

Trump described Kavanaugh as a “great guy” and a “great man” as he headlined a fundraising dinner at his Washington hotel, according to an attendee who spoke on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to describe Trump’s speech publicly.

He made no mention of Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford, the person said.

Trump arrived late at the fundraiser, leaving the White House only after Kavanaugh had finished his testimony.

The fundraiser was for “Protect the House,” a joint committee that benefits the National Republican Congressional Committee and other groups.

— Jill Colvin

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9:40 p.m.

Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona says it’s a “tough call” on whether to support Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court after his dramatic testimony on a sexual assault accusation.

The Republican is among a handful of undecided senators on Kavanaugh. He is a member of the Judiciary Committee, which is set to vote Friday morning on Kavanaugh’s nomination.

The senator was weighing his vote after testimony Thursday from California psychologist Christine Blasey (BLAH’-zee) Ford, who said Kavanaugh groped her and tried to take off her clothes when they were teens. Kavanaugh, testifying second, forcefully denied the accusation.

Flake says Ford’s account “was compelling, but she’s lacking corroboration from those who were there.”

Asked how he will vote, Flake says, “let me process it.”

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9:05 p.m.

GOP Sen. Bob Corker says he’ll be voting to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

The Tennessee Republican said Thursday that Kavanaugh is “qualified to serve.”

Corker says it took “courage” for Kavanaugh’s accuser Christine Blasey (BLAH’-zee) Ford to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee. But he says the testimony presented no evidence to corroborate her allegation that he sexually assaulted her when they were teens.

Corker says Kavanaugh conducted himself “as well as anyone could expect.” Corker says he plans “to vote to confirm him.”

Corker is a moderate Republican senator whose vote wasn’t a certainty. Kavanaugh’s nomination will face a test in the Senate, which has a tight 51-49 Republican majority.

Kavanaugh resolutely denied Ford’s accusation.

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8:10 p.m.

Republican senators say the Judiciary Committee plans to vote Friday morning on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the second ranking-Republican, had said Thursday that the GOP conference would meet and “see where we are.” After meeting, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said, “There will be a vote tomorrow morning.”

Kavanaugh and a woman accusing him of sexual assault, California psychologist Christine Blasey (BLAH’-zee) Ford, spent hours testifying Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Ford told senators that one night in the summer of 1982, a drunken Kavanaugh forced her down on a bed, groped her and tried to take off her clothes. Kavanaugh, testifying second, forcefully denied the accusation and said he’s never sexually assaulted anyone.

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8:05 p.m.

A Democratic senator who is undecided on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court says she needs to “fully digest” the committee hearing on a sexual assault allegation against him.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota praised the “courage” of Christine Blasey Ford, who testified to the Senate that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in a bedroom when they were teens. Kavanaugh in his own testimony denied ever sexually assaulting anyone.

Heitkamp also said it was important that the Senate Judiciary Committee heard Kavanaugh’s side of the story.

She stressed that a nonpartisan FBI investigation should be conducted to “bring greater clarity” to Ford’s claim and Kavanaugh’s denial.

Heitkamp is running for re-election this year in a state where President Donald Trump is popular, and she is under pressure over her vote on Kavanaugh. She is facing Rep. Kevin Cramer in a race seen as critical for Republicans’ chances to keep the Senate.

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7:30 p.m.

A lawyer for Mark Judge says he “does not recall the events” described by Christine Blasey (BLAH’-zee) Ford during her dramatic testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Ford accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at a gathering more than 30 years ago. She says Kavanaugh’s classmate Judge was in the bedroom when the assault took place.

Judge’s lawyer, Barbara Van Gelder, said Thursday that he “does not want to comment about these events publicly” and “will not respond to any media inquiries.”

Van Gelder says Judge “is willing to answer written questions, and he has. In addition, he is willing to participate in a confidential, fact-finding investigation.”

Kavanaugh has denied Ford’s allegation.

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7:15 p.m.

Senate Republicans are huddling to discuss the next steps on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

Kavanaugh and a woman accusing him of sexual assault, California psychologist Christine Blasey (BLAH’-zee) Ford, spent hours testifying Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Ford told senators that one night in the summer of 1982, a drunken Kavanaugh forced her down on a bed, groped her and tried to take off her clothes. Kavanaugh, testifying second, forcefully denied the accusation and said he’s never sexually assaulted anyone.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote Friday morning on Kavanaugh’s nomination, unless Republicans decide to postpone it.

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the second ranking-Republican, says the GOP conference will meet and “see where we are.” But he says the plan is still to have the vote.

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7:10 p.m.

The final question to Brett Kavanaugh at the Senate Judiciary Committee was a spiritual one.

Republican Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana asked the Supreme Court nominee on Thursday if he believed in God.

When Kavanaugh said he did, Kennedy told him this was a “last opportunity” to testify before “God and country.”

The senator asked the judge to look him in the eye. Then he asked Kavanaugh if the allegations of sexual assault from Christine Blasey (BLAH’-zee) Ford were true.

Kavanaugh says, “They’re not accurate.”

Kavanaugh says he doesn’t question Ford’s testimony that she had been assaulted “by someone, some place.”

But Kavanaugh says he has “never done this to anyone, including her.”

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7 p.m.

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh says he didn’t watch Christine Blasey (BLAH’-zee) Ford testify about her accusation that he sexually assaulted her when they were teens.

Both Kavanaugh and Ford spent hours testifying Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, with Ford going first. Ford told senators that one night in the summer of 1982, a drunken Kavanaugh forced her down on a bed, groped her and tried to take off her clothes. Kavanaugh, testifying second, forcefully denied the accusation and said he’s never sexually assaulted anyone.

Kavanaugh was asked by Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris near the end of the hearing whether he had watched Ford’s testimony.

Kavanaugh responded: “I plan to, but I did not. I was preparing mine.”

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6:55 p.m.

President Donald Trump is backing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, calling the judge’s testimony during a Senate hearing “powerful, honest, and riveting.” Trump is declaring, “The Senate must vote!”

Trump defended his nominee on Twitter on Thursday shortly after the extraordinary hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee concluded.

The president says the Democrats’ “search and destroy strategy is disgraceful and this process has been a total sham and effort to delay, obstruct, and resist.”

Kavanaugh defiantly denied allegations he sexually assaulted Christine Blasey (BLAH’-zee) Ford when they were high school students. Ford testified earlier in the day that she was “100 percent” certain Kavanaugh assaulted her.

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6:50 p.m.

The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing featuring Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and a woman accusing him of sexual assault when they were teenagers has adjourned after more than eight hours.

California psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford testified first Thursday, saying that she had been terrified to come forward but felt that it was her civic duty. She says Kavanaugh pinned her against a bed when they were in high school, grinded against her and tried to take off her clothes. She says she considers it attempted rape.

Kavanaugh testified afterward, forcefully denying that he had sexually assaulted anyone and saying Democrats were trying to ruin his life.

The panel is set to vote Friday on whether to recommend Kavanaugh’s nomination move forward to the full Senate.

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6:25 p.m.

President Donald Trump is encouraged by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s passionate denials of Christine Blasey (BLAH’-zee) Ford’s claims that he sexually assaulted her in high school.

A White House official told The Associated Press on Thursday that the West Wing saw the judge’s opening statement as “game changing” and said Trump appeared to be reacting positively.

Trump watched the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Air Force One as he traveled from New York, then resumed monitoring back at the White House.

Two Republicans close to the White House say Trump expressed sympathy for Kavanaugh and his family for having to listen to Ford’s tearful recounting of allegations. After seeing Ford’s testimony, White House aides and allies expressed concern that Kavanaugh would have an uphill climb to deliver a strong enough showing.

But they say Trump was encouraged by Kavanaugh’s performance.

— Jonathan Lemire, Zeke Miller and Catherine Lucey.

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5:50 p.m.

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has apologized after tangling with Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar (KLOH’-buh-shar) over his drinking in high school.

The senator from Minnesota asked Kavanaugh on Thursday about his drinking habits during a hearing on sexual assault allegations. Christine Blasey (BLAH’-zee) Ford says Kavanaugh was drunk at the time he sexually assaulted her.

Klobuchar said Kavanaugh wrote in testimony that he sometimes had too many drinks. Klobuchar asked whether he ever drank so much that he couldn’t remember what happened or part of what happened the night before. Kavanaugh answered “no.”

In a back-and-forth, he added, “Have you?” and followed up a second time.

Klobuchar said: “I have no drinking problem, Judge.” Kavanaugh responded: “Nor do I.”

After returning from a break, he apologized for asking her that question.

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5:05 p.m.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham says the Democrats’ treatment of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is the “most despicable thing” he has seen in politics.

Graham said Thursday that Democrats sat on allegations against Kavanaugh and then sprung them on the nominee at the last minute in a desperate attempt to prevent his confirmation.

The South Carolina senator says Democrats want to “destroy” Kavanaugh’s life and hold the seat open in the hope of winning the White House in 2020.

Graham says a vote against Kavanaugh would “legitimize the most despicable thing I have ever seen in politics.” He also called the Democrats’ tactics “the most unethical sham.”

Graham supported Republicans’ ultimately successful efforts to block action on President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nomination of Judge Merrick Garland.

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5 p.m.

In a heated exchange with a Democratic senator, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh dismissed the scrutiny of his high school yearbook as an “absurdity.”

Democratic senators have been bringing up Kavanaugh’s yearbook as they question him about Christine Blasey (BLAH’-zee) Ford’s allegation of sexual assault when they were teens. Kavanaugh denies the allegation.

Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont asked Kavanaugh about his yearbook and the “drinking” and “sexual exploits” it mentions. As Kavanaugh started to respond, Leahy tried to cut him off.

Kavanaugh retorted, “I’m going to talk about my high school record if you’re going to sit here and mock me.”

After Kavanaugh talked about how he “busted his butt” on academics and played sports in high school, Leahy said: “We got a filibuster but not a single answer.”

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4:35 p.m.

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is calling certain allegations against him a “joke” and a “farce.”

Kavanaugh made the statements while testifying Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee following allegations by Christine Blasey Ford that he sexually assaulted her in high school. Allegations by other women followed those by Ford.

Kavanaugh was referring specifically to allegations by Julie Swetnick, whose name and allegations became public Wednesday, a day before the hearings. Swetnick said in a sworn statement that she witnessed Kavanaugh “consistently engage in excessive drinking and inappropriate contact of a sexual nature with women in the early 1980s.”

Kavanaugh was responding to questions from Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein when he said: “The Swetnick thing is a joke, that’s a farce.”

Feinstein asked Kavanaugh if he wanted to say more about Swetnick’s allegations. Kavanaugh responded: “No.”

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4:15 p.m.

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is apologizing to a high school acquaintance whose name was in a yearbook entry written by him and others with the word “alumnus” after.

Kavanaugh called Renate (reh-NAH’-tah) Schroeder Dolphin “a good female friend” whom people in his social circle “would admire and went to dances with.” He said the yearbook reference “was clumsily intended to show affection and that she was one of us.”

He says the media has falsely interpreted the term “alumnus” as being related to sex. He said it was not, adding that he and Dolphin “never had any sexual interaction at all.”

He says, “So sorry to her for that yearbook reference.”

According to reports, Dolphin had initially been one of 65 women to endorse Kavanaugh after the sexual assault allegations came to light from Christine Blasey (BLAH’-zee) Ford. Kavanaugh forcefully denied the accusation.

Dolphin withdrew her endorsement after Ford’s accusation came to light.

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4:05 p.m.

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh says Democrats’ actions in the past couple of weeks may mean he will never again get to do two things he loves, teach law and coach basketball.

Kavanaugh’s comments Thursday came in an extraordinary, 45-minute opening statement in which he repeatedly expressed rancor toward Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Kavanaugh is blaming Democrats for the fraught environment stemming from allegations of sexual misconduct made by Christine Blasey Ford and two other women. He denied sexually assaulting anyone, including Ford when they were teenagers in high school.

The 53-year-old nominee gestured toward the Democrats seated to his right when he said that “thanks to what some of you on this side of the committee have unleashed, I may never be able to teach again.” He repeated that formulation when talking about coaching his daughters in basketball.

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4 p.m.

Brett Kavanaugh says he never imagined the topic of sex would come up in a confirmation hearing, but he wants lawmakers to know he never had sexual intercourse or anything close to it during high school or for many years after that.

He said Thursday that for him and the girls he was friends with, the lack of major rampant sexual activity in high school “was a matter of faith and respect and caution.”

He says the committee has a letter from 65 women who knew him in high school and they said he always treated them with dignity and respect.

He says that letter came together in one night 35 years after graduation. He says they knew they would be vilified if they defended him.

Kavanaugh tells senators “think about that. They put themselves on the line for me. Those are some awesome women.”

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3:45 p.m.

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh says the sexual allegations against him are a “calculated and orchestrated political hit.”

California psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford testified Thursday that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her during a gathering while they were in high school. She says she’s 100 percent certain it was him. Kavanaugh denies the allegations.

Both are testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

He says part of the reason for the allegations is anger by some about President Donald Trump and the 2016 election, and out of revenge on “behalf of the Clintons.” In the 1990s, Kavanaugh was on the team that investigated President Bill Clinton as part of special prosecutor Kenneth Starr’s investigation. The report led to Clinton’s impeachment, though he was not removed from office.

Kavanaugh said Thursday that the allegations are also the result of money from left-wing opposition groups.

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3:40 p.m.

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is choking up before the Senate Judiciary Committee as he fights back against allegations of sexual assault.

The judge sounded angry and tried to hold back tears Thursday as he told senators he was “innocent of this charge.” Christine Blasey (BLAH’-zee) Ford testified earlier that he groped her and held her down during a party when they were teens.

Kavanaugh “categorically denied” all aspects of her testimony, saying he never did those things years ago.

The father of two daughters says one of his girls said they should “pray for the woman” making the allegations.

Kavanaugh says, “That’s a lot of wisdom from a 10 year old.” He says, “We mean no ill will.”

Kavanaugh continued his testimony, his voice rising and choking up, throughout.

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3:35 p.m.

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh says he “never had any sexual or physical encounter of any kind” with Christine Blasey Ford.

Kavanaugh is testifying Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Ford testified earlier, telling senators that Kavanaugh assaulted her at a gathering in high school.

She says he and a friend barricaded her in a room and Kavanaugh got on top of her and covered her mouth so she could not cry out for help. She says she is “100 percent” certain it was Kavanaugh who attacked her.

Kavanaugh said that he isn’t questioning whether Ford was sexually assaulted — but he says he did not do that to her or anyone. He says he’s “innocent of this charge.”

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3:30 p.m.

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is telling a Senate panel that he “will not be intimidated” into withdrawing his nomination to the Supreme Court.

Kavanaugh told lawmakers Thursday in his opening statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee: “You may defeat me in the final vote, but you’ll never get me to quit. Never.”

Kavanaugh was speaking following testimony by California psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford. She says that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were teens and that she is “100 percent” certain it was him.

Kavanaugh told lawmakers he is “innocent of this charge.”

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For more coverage of Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination, visit https://apnews.com/tag/Kavanaughnomination

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