Senators will be able to start reading the FBI investigation summaries into President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Thursday morning, Senate sources told CNN.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley is expected to read the summaries first, followed by the top Democrat on the committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California.
What will be included in the summaries and the exact timing remained to be determined Wednesday night. The White House expects to receive the results of an FBI background investigation into Trump’s nominee “soon,” officials told CNN. As of earlier Wednesday evening the documents, which several key senators have said they’re waiting on before deciding how to vote, had not yet arrived. Sources say the Senate may physically receive the investigation Wednesday night but reading starts Thursday morning.
The future of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the high court appears on hold as key lawmakers await the FBI’s findings, following a day of being asked to respond to Trump’s mocking of the woman who accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault.
The FBI interviewed more people Wednesday as part of its investigation into the allegations of sexual assault and sexual misconduct leveled against Kavanaugh, a person familiar with the interviews told CNN.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took the administrative step of filing cloture Wednesday, a procedural move that set up the Senate to vote take a procedural on Kavanaugh’s nomination on Friday and a final vote on Saturday.
Three Republican members who will be crucial to deciding Kavanaugh’s fate crticized Trump on Wednesday after he unleashed an attack on Christine Blasey Ford, Kavanaugh’s accuser who testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. Trump’s mockery of Ford at a campaign rally on Tuesday night intensified political pressure on Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine as they consider how they will vote.
Collins told CNN’s Manu Raju that the comments were “just plain wrong.” She would not say if they would affect her vote.
Murkowski said that Trump’s remarks were “wholly inappropriate, and in my view unacceptable.” Asked whether the President’s attack would sway her vote, she answered: “I am taking everything into account.”
Flake, whose reservations about Kavanaugh led to Trump requesting a supplemental background check on his nominee last week, also condemned the President’s comments.
“I thought it was obviously insensitive and appalling, frankly. There’s no time or place, but particularly, to discuss something so sensitive at a political rally is just wrong,” Flake told CNN’s Raju.
But Flake also said that the President’s attack would not influence his vote.
Speaking at a campaign rally Tuesday night, Trump cast doubt on Ford’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee by mocking her for not knowing the answers to questions such as how she had gotten to the high school party in the 1980s where she says Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her, an allegation he has repeatedly denied.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders dismissed the widespread view that Trump mocked Ford. She said he was simply “stating the facts” and complained that both Ford and Kavanaugh were “victims” of a Democratic plot to derail the nomination.
“No one is looking at whether the accusations made are corroborated. Every single bit of evidence and facts that we have seen in this moment have supported Judge Kavanaugh’s case,” Sanders said.
“Certainly the testimony by Dr. Ford was compelling, but you can’t make this decision based on emotion.”
Flake, Collins and Murkowski are facing fierce pressure from their left and right over their reservations about Kavanaugh. If all the Democrats in the Senate stick together, McConnell can afford to lose only one senator from his ranks and still confirm Trump’s pick.
Disquiet about the President’s intervention was not limited to those Republican senators who are undecided about Kavanaugh. One of his most vociferous supporters, South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, also weighed in.
“So President Trump went through a factual rendition, that I didn’t particularly like, and I would tell him to knock it off. You’re not helping,” Graham said at the Atlantic Festival in Washington.
But White House counselor Kellyanne Conway brushed off criticism of the President and bolstered the toughened White House line towards Ford.
“The woman has been accommodated by all of us, including Senate Judiciary Committee,” Conway told reporters.
“She’s been treated like a Faberge egg by all of us, beginning with me and the President. He’s pointing out factual inconsistencies.”
Although the FBI has yet to conclude its investigation, McConnell vowed Tuesday that a vote will happen on Kavanaugh’s nomination this week regardless of what the FBI finds.
Flake has previously said that his vote depends on the results of the FBI’s investigation and has declined to speculate on whether he would be comfortable voting on Kavanaugh if the probe is not yet completed.
The President’s remarks also offered an opening to critics of the Kavanaugh nomination, including Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, who sits on the Judiciary Committee.
“This vile, mocking attack on a credible, immensely powerfully eloquent survivor of sexual assault is a mark of disrespect and disregard not only for Dr. Blasey Ford but the entire survivor community,” he told CNN’s “New Day” host Alisyn Camerota.
And Sen. Angus King, an independent from Maine who caucuses with Democrats, said on CNN’s “New Day” that Trump’s comments “made me feel sort of sick.”
CNN’s Ariane de Vogue, Phil Mattingly, Devan Cole, Clare Foran, Jasmine Wright, Jeremy Herb and Veronica Stracqualursi contributed to this report.