WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Brett Kavanaugh looked headed for a lifetime job on the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday after two crucial senators said they would vote to confirm his appointment despite accusations of sexual misconduct.
Confirmation of Kavanaugh at a final vote which is likely on Saturday would give President Donald Trump a victory in his drive to consolidate conservative dominance of the nation’s highest court and move the American judiciary rightward.
Republican Susan Collins and Democrat Joe Manchin, both regarded as swing votes, said they would support Kavanaugh.
“The allegations fail to meet the ‘more likely than not’ standard,” Collins said of the accusations against Kavanaugh.
A sharply partisan battle over his nomination became an intense political drama when university professor Christine Blasey Ford accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault when they were in high school in Maryland in 1982.
Two other women also made accusations of sexual misconduct by Kavanaugh in the 1980s. He angrily denied the accusations.
Earlier on Friday, Senate lawmakers backed Kavanaugh by 51 to 49 in a procedural vote that moved the Republican-controlled Senate toward a definitive decision.
Reporting by Amanda Becker and Richard Cowan; Additional reporting by David Morgan, Ginger Gibson, David Alexander, Eric Beech, Lisa Lambert and Kevin Drawbaugh; Writing by Alistair Bell; Editing by Clive McKeef