The Slatest

What Sens. Collins and Flake Think of the FBI’s Kavanaugh Report Now That They’ve Seen It

Collins walking behind a security guard.
Sen. Susan Collins arrives at the Office of Senate Security, where senators can view the report about alleged sexual assaults by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senators are getting their first look Thursday at the results of the FBI’s limited-in-time-and-scope investigation into Brett Kavanaugh’s alleged sexual misconduct. With Republicans promising to plow ahead with a confirmation vote, likely as early as Saturday, all eyes are on a handful of potential swing votes that are expected to decide this thing. Below, we’re rounding up reactions from them, and others of note, as they trickle in from Capitol Hill.

The most crucial votes will come from the three Republicans who banded together to force their party to allow the FBI to investigate the allegations in the first place: Arizona’s Jeff Flake, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, and Maine’s Susan Collins. Republicans hold a narrow 51–49 advantage—with Vice President Mike Pence as the potential tiebreaker—so they need just two of those three to confirm Kavanaugh along party lines. The early returns from this group suggest Mitch McConnell has good reason to believe he’s got the votes:




Sitting below that trio on the confirmation watch list are a pair of red-state Democrats who are up for re-election in states that Trump won by landslides in 2016: Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, both of whom voted to confirm Donald Trump’s previous SCOTUS pick, Neil Gorsuch. If the GOP ends up with the votes to confirm Kavanaugh along party lines, it’s possible that Heitkamp and/or more likely Manchin break ranks to prove their independence to Trump voters back home, but it’s nearly unthinkable either would be willing to be the deciding vote on her or his own.



Then a good ways below them sit a handful of other Republicans who could theoretically jump across partisan lines to vote against confirmation if Flake, Murkowski, and/or Collins jump first. Among them: Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Deb Fischer of Nebraska, and Dan Sullivan of Alaska.


And then there is the rest of the Senate, which—surprise, surprise—is reacting exactly how you’d expect to an FBI report that Democrats were always afraid would not be thorough enough and Republicans claimed would be more than adequate.

GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Judiciary Committee:

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, ranking member of the Judiciary Committee:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell:

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer:

GOP Sen. John Kennedy, member of the Judiciary Committee:

Democratic Sen. Cory Booker, member of the Judiciary Committee:

Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez:

And finally, Democratic Sen. Chris Coons, member of the Judiciary Committee:

We’ll continue to update this post with additional reactions of note throughout the day.