Five senators hold keys to Kavanaugh's Supreme Court bid

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Senate Republican leadership announced that an Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has found no evidence to support sexual assault allegations against the judge, and said that a vote will be held on Saturday.

"This investigation found no hint of misconduct", Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a statement.

In a statement Wednesday night after McConnell set the vote in motion, Ford's counsel wrote: "An FBI supplemental background investigation that did not include an interview of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford - nor the witnesses who corroborate her testimony - can not be called an investigation".

Ford testified before Congress last week that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were both in high school.

The reports are not expected to be made public.

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, has already started a process that will produce a crucial test vote in his polarized chamber Friday on Kavanaugh's fate.

Judge Kavanaugh has vehemently denied all allegations against him.

President Donald Trump, pushing to get his nominee for a lifetime job on the top U.S. court, said in a Twitter post on Thursday after the FBI finished its investigation that the allegations against Kavanaugh were "totally uncorroborated".

"It's obviously a cover up", the Massachusetts Democrat said.

The FBI similarly had not - at least as of Wednesday - interviewed Julie Swetnick, who said in a declaration that Kavanaugh was physically abusive toward girls in high school and was present at a house party in 1982 where she says she was the victim of a "gang" rape.

The White House believes the FBI report addressed the Senate's questions about Kavanaugh, Shah told CNN, adding that the FBI reached out to 10 people in its investigation and "comprehensively interviewed" nine of them.

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Anonymous sources told the Wall Street Journal that the report found no corroboration of the allegations of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh.

Lawyer Alan Abramson said he represented a friend of Ramirez's who was hoping to share an account of a conversation the two had in the early 1990s about an incident in her freshman year. He voted to confirm Trump's first Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch.

Democrats claimed throughout the week that the FBI's additional background check was not sufficient due to its limited scope. Should Republicans get the majority of votes they need - and Vice President Mike Pence is available to cast the tie-breaker, if necessary - that would set up a decisive roll call on his confirmation, likely over the weekend. Jeff Flake said on NBC's Today show that the remarks were "kind of appalling".

Those allegations have drawn out Kavanaugh's nomination process, which a few weeks ago seemed on course for a swift confirmation. Senator Murkowski called Trump's speech "wholly inappropriate" and "unacceptable".

'Heidi made her decision, I'll make mine, ' he said.

Republicans control the Senate by a 51-49 margin.

McConnell said the Senate can not become known for destroying the reputations of nominees based on uncorroborated allegations from 40 years ago.

Prof Ford's lawyer said eight people were not interviewed who could corroborate her claims, while Ms Ramirez's lawyer said more than 20 witnesses were not contacted.

'The more outrageous our Democratic colleagues treat this nomination of Judge Kavanaugh, the more energized Republican voters are becoming, because they realize what the alternative is, ' Republican Sen.

The three senators criticised Mr Trump after he mocked Prof Ford at a rally on Tuesday for not recalling some details of the alleged assault. Democratic senators huddled, preparing to hold a news conference.

"But we are united, as professors of law and scholars of judicial institutions, in believing that Judge Kavanaugh did not display the impartiality and judicial temperament requisite to sit on the highest court of our land".