US senators, expected to vote Friday morning on the confirmation of President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, are still highly divided along partisan lines over the results of a probe into allegations of sexual misconduct against the judge.
If the procedural vote passes, the Senate could move to a final vote as early as Saturday, one month before the November 6 midterm elections.
The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee has urged his colleagues to say no to "mob rule" and vote to move Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination forward.
It is not a done deal, however.
With a razor-thin majority in the upper chamber, Senate Republicans can afford to lose only one GOP vote if all Democrats vote against the nomination. Sen.
So even after Friday's vote, speculation as to Kavanaugh's fate on the court could continue.
The vote is expected around 10:30 am (2.30am Saturday AEST). But a change of heart by some lawmakers in the final vote would mean his confirmation could still be derailed.
In an unprecedented turn of events, only one Federal Bureau of Investigation report was released to all Senators in a secured room for review.
More than 300 people were arrested at the protests, including the comedian Amy Schumer, who is a second cousin of Senate Democrat leader Chuck Schumer, and model Emily Ratajkowski.
The FBI inquiry began last week at the direction of the White House after Republican Sen.
Kavanaugh's op-ed in The Wall Street Journal was published on the eve of a key procedural vote in the Senate on his nomination.
The senator cited Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her in the early 1980s, in her statement, saying, "When I listened to Dr. Ford testify, I heard the voices of women I have known throughout my life who have similar stories of sexual assault and abuse".
Those not interviewed in the reopened background investigation included Mr Kavanaugh himself and Christine Blasey Ford, who alleged he had molested her in a locked room at a 1982 high school gathering.
In his testimony, Kavanaugh complained about "a calculated and orchestrated political hit fuelled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election".
He also said the allegations against him were part of what he called a leftwing conspiracy to keep him off the court.
Kavanaugh, who now sits on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and previously worked for the independent counsel's office during the investigation of President Bill Clinton, described opposition to his nomination as "revenge on behalf of the Clintons". That is because I forcefully and passionately denied the allegation against me. "I appreciate his generosity as well as his dedication to family and country".
He said he was more emotional than he had ever been.
McConnell needs 51 votes to clear the procedural hurdle on Friday.
Donald Trump was quick to praise the vote, tweeting: 'Very proud of the U.S. Senate for voting "YES" to advance the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh!'
"I'm going through it".
It's now down to a handful of undecided senators on both sides of the aisle.
The column said that Kavanaugh "poisoned any sense that he could serve as an impartial judge", following his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 27. "There's nothing in it that we didn't already know". Flake, of Arizona, and two other Republican senators have not announced how they'll vote. They are Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republicans Jeff Flake of Arizona, Susan Collins of ME and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.
The timing of the vote could be complicated by Republican Senator Steve Daines, whose office said yesterday he planned to attend his daughter's wedding in Montana tomorrow, making him unavailable to cast his vote.
Murkowski seemed to confirm that fact shortly after the cloture vote, calling it "the most hard evaluation" she's had to make.