In an unusual weekend session, the U.S. Senate advances to a final vote on the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Watch the proceedings live.
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Updated at 2:25 p.m. ET
The Senate is expected to vote Saturday on the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh and — barring a major unforeseen development — in all likelihood, he will be confirmed by the narrowest of margins.
In a tweet Saturday morning, President Trump suggested the final vote will happen in the afternoon or early evening, adding that the day is a "Big day for America!"
Asked about the #MeToo movement and her husband's recent comments about its potential impact on men, first lady Melania Trump weighed in on Kavanaugh's controversial nomination. "I would say if we're talking about the Supreme Court and Judge Kavanaugh, I think he's highly qualified for the Supreme Court," Trump said while speaking to reporters in Egypt during a solo international trip to Africa. "I'm glad that Dr. Ford was heard, I'm glad that Judge Kavanaugh was heard. FBI investigation was done, is completed and Senate voted."
But when asked whether she believed Christine Blasey Ford who alleged that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her more than three decades ago when they were both in high school, the first lady would not answer directly. "I will move on that and I think that all the victims they need — we need to help all the victims no matter what kind of abuse they had, but I am against any kind of abuse or violence," the first lady explained.
In the hours before the vote, police arrested demonstrators who had broken through barriers around the Capitol and tried to climb the building's steps.
Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told the Washington Post the protests against Kavanaugh "were a great political gift" for Republicans. "I want to thank the mob, because they've done the one thing we were having trouble doing, which was energizing our base."
On Friday, after the nomination cleared a key procedural hurdle with a 51-49 vote, two previously undecided senators, Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., announced they would support Kavanaugh. That support all but assures Republicans of the votes they need to push the nomination across the finish line.
In a much anticipated speech on the Senate floor Friday afternoon, Collins said that she believed that Ford was a survivor of sexual assault. Still, Collins said, the allegations "fail to meet the 'more likely than not' standard," and "I do not believe that these charges can fairly prevent Judge Kavanaugh from serving on the court."
And in a statement issued soon after Collins spoke, Manchin explained he was supporting Kavanaugh notwithstanding the "serious accusations" leveled against the judge and lingering questions about Kavanaugh's temperament.
"I have reservations about this vote given the serious accusations against Judge Kavanaugh and the temperament he displayed in the hearing," Manchin said. "And my heart goes out to anyone who has experienced any type of sexual assault in their life. However, based on all of the information I have available to me, including the recently completed FBI report, I have found Judge Kavanaugh to be a qualified jurist who will follow the Constitution and determine cases based on the legal findings before him. I do hope that Judge Kavanaugh will not allow the partisan nature this process took to follow him onto the court."
Speaking to NPR on Friday, a lawyer for Ford said the California professor's goal was never to derail the nomination. "Dr. Ford's goal here was never to impact the process to derail a nomination," attorney Lisa Banks said on All Things Considered. "What she was trying to do was what she thought was the right thing to do as a citizen, which is to provide the information to the U.S. Senate so they could make the most informed decision possible. Her goal wasn't to derail this nomination, it was to inform the nomination and she's done that."
If the vote goes as expected, Kavanaugh will become President Trump's second appointment to the Supreme Court, creating a conservative 5-4 majority on the nation's highest court for years to come.