Senators read FBI report as confirmation vote hangs in balance

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Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh testifies during the Senate Judiciary Committee, Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018 on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Tom Williams/Pool Image via AP)

The Senate is now scrutinizing portions of an FBI report into the allegations of sexual misconduct against President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Early Thursday morning, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, announced that members of the committee had received the FBI’s report.

“Supplemental FBI background file for Judge Kavanaugh has been received,” he said in a tweet.

He added that he and ranking member Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., “have agreed to alternating EQUAL access for senators to study content from additional background info gathered by non-partisan FBI agents.”

The report, according to a statement from the committee, was delivered to Capitol Hill at 2:30 a.m. Thursday.

An administration official familiar with the White House’s review of the FBI report told ABC News it should not sink Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

“We want to be careful not to fully characterize what is in the report, but we are going full steam ahead and have full confidence in his nomination,” the official said. “It’s fair to say if something were concerning in the report we wouldn’t be.”

The official added, “[The report] won’t satisfy the critics.”

The FBI was directed to look into “credible” allegations of sexual misconduct made by Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez against Kavanaugh.

The White House specifically requested FBI interviews with four people: Kavanaugh’s high school friends Mark Judge and P.J. Smyth; Leland Keyser, who Ford claimed was at the party where the alleged assault took place; and Ramirez, whose lawyers provided a list of more than 20 additional witnesses to interview.

Kavanaugh has categorically denied all charges.

The White House received the FBI report Wednesday night, according to a statement by deputy White House press secretary Raj Shah.

“With Leader McConnell’s cloture filing, senators have been given ample time to review this seventh background investigation,” he said. “This is the last addition to the most comprehensive review of a Supreme Court nominee in history.”

The report, as of Thursday morning, has not been released to the public. Sen. Mitch McConnell has insisted that it remain private.

McConnell, speaking on the Senate floor late Wednesday night, announced that senators will review the report and then he filed a procedural motion to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination.

All 100 senators will be able to access the report Thursday morning in rotating time blocks, starting at 8 a.m.

Speaking on the Senate floor, McConnell said there will be “plenty of time” for senators to review the material before a Friday cloture vote.

If it passes, it’s likely the Senate will hold a final vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation on Saturday. If Republicans don’t have the votes to cut off debate on Friday, it cannot move forward to a final vote.

Standing in Kavanaugh’s way are a handful of key swing votes. The group of moderate senators who could ultimately make or break his nomination includes Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., Susan Collins, R-Maine, Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.

Their votes will likely hinge on the FBI report.

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