Senate Republicans are eyeing a possible weekend vote to confirm Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, barring any unforeseen information in an FBI report that's expected by the end of the week.
Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, said GOP leaders want to get it done in the coming days and will be pushing to finish the job confirmation for President Trump's embattled nominee.
“The leader wants to get this wrapped up this week,” Cornyn told reporters Monday night as he walked to his office in the Capitol.
When asked if the vote could come after Friday, Cornyn said, "Could be."
Republicans are looking for the FBI to wrap up its investigation into sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh by Friday. At the urging of Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., GOP leaders agreed to delay votes on Kavanaugh until the FBI completes a report after no longer than a week, and they're eager for the report to be out so they can quickly get back to voting.
If the report surfaces Friday, Republicans would likely push for a vote to end debate on the nomination on Friday as well, setting up a 30-hour waiting period that would result in a final confirmation vote on Saturday.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced Monday afternoon the Senate would vote “this week” on Kavanaugh after the FBI wraps up it's work, another sign that he's pushing for a vote by Saturday at the latest.
Still, Cornyn said lawmakers must first see the FBI report and suggested that it should at least partly be made public.
“There is going to have to be some sort of announcement about what this supplemental investigation has yielded because now these allegations have been made, so far unproven, and there needs to be some way to announce that,” Cornyn said.
The background checks are normally confidential, and Cornyn said this case "presents a novel situation” because of the public nature of the sexual misconduct allegations, which were first revealed after being leaked to the press.
Cornyn seemed to reject a call for an all-senators briefing about the FBI report, which was suggested by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
“There needs to be a report, and my guess is the report will reveal what we know now, which is no new information,” Cornyn said.
Meanwhile, Democrats have been pushing for an extended review by the FBI. Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., a member of the Judiciary Committee who worked with Flake to launch the new FBI probe, wants the investigation to be unlimited.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., wants the bureau to interview a list of more than two dozen witnesses related to the claims against Kavanaugh, which remain uncorroborated.
Blumenthal said it would be "difficult if not impossible," for them to complete that task by the end of the week.
Coons also criticized the limited scope and timeline, even though he supported a limited review of about one week just days ago.
“The FBI needs to be able to pursue all reasonable investigatory steps from the credible allegations in front of the committee,” said Coons, who has been in contact with the White House on the matter.
Those witnesses, for example, include one woman named by Deborah Ramirez, a Yale classmate of Kavanaugh’s who said he flashed her at a party their freshman year, Coons said. Her story is uncorroborated, but at least one other former classmate said he heard about the incident after it occurred but has not been interviewed by the FBI.
Kavanaugh is also accused by Christine Blasey Ford of attempting to sexually assault her at a gathering while they were in high school.
A third allegation by a Julie Swetnick claims Kavanaugh participated in parties in the 1980s where women were gang raped. It’s not clear whether the FBI is looking into the Swetnick claim.
Cornyn said Coons called for a weeklong investigation last week and is now looking to extend it in order to continue delaying the Kavanaugh nomination, which nearly all other Democrats oppose.
“He’s losing credibility,” Cornyn said of Coons.