That makes the Senate Judiciary Committee vote a done deal — and likely the floor vote for Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation, too. Retiring Senator Jeff Flake was the only Republican committee member who remained uncommitted on Kavanaugh, and who took to the Senate floor earlier in the week to appeal to the better angels of both parties.
This morning, as the committee was about to go into session, Flake announced his support on the basis of affirming the norms of due process. “What I do know,” Flake declared, “is that our system of justice affords a presumption of innocence to the accused, absent corroborating evidence. … I will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh.”
That’s one down and two to go:
— ABC News (@ABC) September 28, 2018
Flake’s support means that Judiciary will pass Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Senate with a recommendation for confirmation, likely on an 11-10 vote. That will give Mitch McConnell all the impetus he needs to fast-track the vote over the weekend, with a final vote likely by Tuesday at the latest.
Still, 49 is not 50, where Mike Pence could cast a tiebreaking vote. McConnell needs either Susan Collins or Lisa Murkowski to vote aye in both the procedural motions and the final vote. That seems a lot more likely with Flake’s decision to back the nomination; Collins seemed to be leaning Kavanaugh’s way already, and Murkowski sounded annoyed with the circus that had developed around him. But even without them, there is a better-than-zero chance that Joe Manchin will cross the aisle to support Kavanaugh, given the politics in West Virginia and his need to be seen as independent from Chuck Schumer.
Update: Chris Coons didn’t take the news very well:
— Shannon Bream (@ShannonBream) September 28, 2018
Update: Chuck Grassley needed Flake to keep this stall tactic from succeeding:
GOP on Judiciary votes down effort to subpoena Mark Judge on a party-line vote, including Flake
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) September 28, 2018
Judge submitted a second sworn statement to the committee last night largely reiterating the first statement. He added that he didn’t want to publicly testify because of a fear of public speaking and his recovery from addiction, and also fixed a technical issue with the first statement by signing it.
Update: The committee will take its final vote at 1:30 ET today. The result is a foregone conclusion now.
Update: Speaking of “gone” …
BREAKING: Some Democratic senators are walking out of cmte. hearing as Republican Chairman Grassley continues with Judge Kavanaugh's confirmation process.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) September 28, 2018