President Donald Trump's nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, looked headed for a lifetime job on the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday after two crucial senators said that sexual misconduct accusations against the judge would not prevent them from voting to confirm him.
The senator said she spoke with Judge Kavanaugh in her office for two hours, an additional hour on the phone and dozens of her own constituents before making her decision.
Mr Kavanagh was sworn in nearly immediately by Chief Justice John Roberts, according to a statement from the court.
"Since right from the moment we announced, radical Democrats launched a disgraceful campaign to resist, obstruct, delay, demolish and destroy, right from the beginning", Trump said.
The dramatic Senate floor announcement by perhaps the chamber's most moderate Republican ended most of the suspense over a tortuous, election-season battle that had left Kavanaugh's fate in doubt for almost a month after the first accusation against him.
Kavanaugh's now 53 years old, which means he likely has decades as a justice ahead of him.
In an interview shortly before the Senate is set to vote on confirming Kavanaugh, McConnell said GOP members of the Judiciary Committee made the decision in a meeting with two other Republicans who were at the time withholding their support, Senator Susan Collins of ME and Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.
The last minute ambush of Kavanaugh was done with an eye on the upcoming elections by the Democrats, who hoped the battle would reinvigorate their base.
When Vice President Mike Pence, who presided over the vote, exited the Senate, he was loudly booed and heckled by onlookers outside until he ducked into his limousine. The inclusion of the question, which critics state is created to reduce participation by immigrants, could lead to an undercount of the USA population in certain regions and thus the malapportionment of electoral votes and congressional seats in a manner that could hurt the Democratic Party.
Besides the accusations of sexual misconduct, another issue - abortion rights - mobilised the opposition to Kavanaugh. "I'm also concerned about the impact on the court".
He added that he thinks the week-long delay as the FBI investigated sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh was something positive.
Despite weeks of pointed and tempestuous questioning by senators, Brett Kavanaugh, a 53-year-old Yale graduate, who rose to prominence as a member of Ken Starr's legal team, which led the campaign to impeach Bill Clinton two decades ago, appeared set for a relatively straightforward confirmation.
Teresa McGuire, 59, a rally attendee from Lawrence, Kansas, said "more should come forward if something happened to them", but said she was skeptical of Ford's claims. One woman said that in high school, Kavanaugh attended parties where groups of boys would rape girls (though she didn't say she'd witnessed Kavanaugh himself committing rape).
It was not clear that Kavanaugh would have the votes for confirmation until Collins said in a Senate floor speech that she would support his nomination.
Mr. Trump, flying to Kansas for a political rally, flashed a thumbs-up gesture when the tally was announced and praised Mr. Kavanaugh for being "able to withstand this disgusting, terrible attack by the Democrats". She broke with fellow moderate Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who opposes the nominee.
Walking a fine line, some conceded that they believed Ford was telling the truth that she was attacked at the party, but did not think the attacker was Kavanaugh.
While many senators said they were satisfied with the FBI probe, her lawyers called the investigation insufficient.
The investigation was wrapped up in about five days and it convinced Flake to back Kavanaugh. Manchin, who faces a competitive re-election next month in a state Trump overwhelmingly carried in 2016, voted to advance Kavanaugh's nomination in a key procedural vote earlier Friday.