SPECIAL REPORT: Senators vote to end debate on Kavanaugh nomination

Senators vote 51 to 49 for cloture, with one Democrat joining 50 Republicans to move the nomination to a final vote.
32:23 | 10/05/18

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Transcript for SPECIAL REPORT: Senators vote to end debate on Kavanaugh nomination
This is an ABC news special. Rick Kavanagh confirmation. Votes now reporting. Dee good news. Good morning and we're coming on here at this hour with breaking news a crucial vote on Supreme Court nominee bright Kavanagh is now under way on Capitol Hill the senate is voting right now. On whether to advance judge capitals nomination to a final confirmation that final vote. The didn't come as early as tomorrow but this vote is crucial right now in order for that to happen. All eyes are still on for undecided senators Republican senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski. And Jeff flake who just voted five. Agreeing to move this forward mr. also watching democratic senator Joseph mansion this morning from West Virginia. He has said that he has not decided before arriving in the chamber this morning. Senator Collins revealing a short time ago that she will vote yes this morning and in fact she has to advance the confirmation but that she will been revealed her final decision. Yes or no one Kavanagh. On the senate floor later this afternoon the senate judiciary chairmanship grass this morning telling a merry Bruce that quote we don't know how it's going to go until these votes get cast. Judge Kevin of course pleading his own case again in the Wall Street Journal in an op Ed writing his fiery testimony quote. Might have been too emotional answering questions about his temperament that he knows still exists for some of the senators. It's galloped to the senators decide millions Americans their constituents back home will be watching and listening here this morning of course president trump watching this very closely as well. And let's listen in to the vote again that key vote from senator flake moments ago voting line to move this forward of course we now wait and some of the other undecided senators who will. Determine the way this goes. Mr. Reid. Mr. rich. Mr. Roberts. Mr. rounds. Mr. rubio course as we listen in in the senate chamber can sometimes be difficult to hear the ASEAN both. Instead hearing. The senators Lisa appalled and watching this was me is our senior congressional correspondent show ordinary. We were taking no intent to short time ago senators Collins and Murkowski both entered did not enter together but they are seated somewhat close to one another and they were seen talking to one another whispering to thank each other's ears. It David only interesting to see the body language here between me he undecided. Both this key senators who had been watching so closely in these past few days I have to say one of the thing that strikes me so much this morning is how. Rooney so many of these senators are still wrestling with this decision not just yet about the politics if it's genuinely. So many of these undecided votes seem to really be struggling like this we saw senator Joseph Manchin of West Virginia this morning going in one more time into that secure room in the basement of the capitol take another look. At that FBI report on judge Kavanagh an alleged allegation that sexual misconduct. He told reporters that he genuinely didn't think he was going to know how she was going to vote until he walked through the doors here today. Some breaking news merry while you were reporting in we heard senator Murkowski vote no link. It's to this cloture vote saying that she does not believe the shouldn't still winter and next vote in of course she's been one of those key senators. Are we did not know which way she would go Australia where she's a senator from Alaska and it had been reported that. Victims of sexual assault had been in her office yesterday. Should publicize it but that they were there and as we know senators on Capitol Hill have been receiving. Many calls since the testimony of doctor Christine glossy Ford last week. Again Murkowski meeting with some of those victims in the last 24 hours it's been reported and this morning voting no on this cloture vote. And if you call it was senator Murkowski who said before the testimony last week from both Brett Cavanaugh and from doctor forward that quote. We are now in a place where it's not about whether or not judge Kavanagh has qualified. It's about whether or not a woman who has been a victim at some point in her life. Is to be believed to be married this is significant senator Murkowski a note this morning. Or anything and again there have been signs as you mentioned that she might be making this this bill she has been under from ended. Pressure from her constituents we've been seeing protesters camp that nearly nonstop it seems outside of her office here on the hill and it's. Something really is he mentioned the thing different about this debate that we've seen here on the hill the level of interaction it. Mean protesters and these key undecided vote is key swing votes. Has been really something to do to watch something tremendous unseen. These protesters not just here in on the on the street that's out of Washington actually engaging senators directly taking their case to their representatives either urging them to support. Oh or to say or to vote against judge Kavanagh but Lisa Murkowski under tremendous pressure like so many others. And now we know that she is voting no today to advance this debate. Just help viewers at home Mary understand how this works obviously neither of the rules of the senate playing out in front America today millions watching. Because in no vote this morning on this cloture vote does not necessarily mean a no vote on the final vote so. Talk us through this senator Murkowski voting no this morning senator Collins of voting yes but then she'll speak on the senate floor later today about her final vote. Yet this is a procedural vote essentially to a dance judge Kavanagh nomination to end this did beat. House senators vote today does not necessarily indicate how they will vote on final passage now if this vote to and it cloture had goes through then it means that they will likely vote. On final passage sometime tomorrow afternoon but you mentioned Susan Collins. We know that she is a gas now to this vote but that means she could still technically vote no tomorrow although that does seem. Think it would be unlikely given some of the signs that we've seen coming from our Susan Collins yesterday coming out after viewing that FBI report saying that she thought it was a third row. Investigate San. Happened but it will be interesting to see what she has to say later this afternoon David. Howard this in to lighten. Mr. Sanders. No. Mr. Lee. I. Is Harrison. No. As we listen in here now pulling some of the democratic senators. This is not typical wood of the procedure that's under way here this morning so we're trying to keep close watch on what it is were witnessing we do know. But the democratic senator Joseph Manchin who I mentioned was one of the undecideds going into this morning voting yes to this cloture vote. Which again simply means that she's voting yes if we move on to the next step to a final vote that could come as early as tomorrow. There's a lot of pressure on senator mansion he comes from West Virginia were president trump won handily in the 2016 election. Mentioned Elster is a Democrat. And it's been deliberating and as Mary reporting here this morning had been in the skiff that secure rooms this year but where the findings and FBI investigation under lock and key. He said he was. Undecided and that he wanted to go look at the findings of that report again before heading into this room to vote. Mr. Donnelly. Our veteran journalist Cokie Roberts watching this unfold this morning cooking this is slightly different from what we normally see. David normally an incentive for both their wandering now on and off the floor they're talking to each other they're only three or four on the floor at the same time. Here there's city and then there's seats. Listening hands serious calm standing to vote. This is a very very serious perceive and they know it and that's why they're behaving in this fashion and they're all there and they they're taking this quite seriously. Normally I have to tea with the cloture vote this is a vote to end debate. That if you vote yes on cloture. It means taking it to the next step that usually also does mean you're gonna vote for the bill as a nominee whenever. If you vote no on cloture is saying I don't even want to take it to the next steps. So this very very unlikely that you would then vote for the nominee. So the fact that. Lisa Murkowski has voted no is highly significant. The fact that John mansion in Susan Collins and voting yes is probably also quite significant but not quite as soon. What we do believe that the Republicans. Have the fifty votes. They were looking for for cloture but as cookie just mentioned sometimes this initial vote for cloture is an indicator of what's to come. It's super Lisa Murkowski coking this was significant that she was a no vote this morning and from Joseph Manchin a yes. Peter Reid could possibly be one of the senators who helps. Bring Brett Cavanaugh to the Supreme Court. These senator he could be these senators who does that. He's in a very very tough reelection. Race right now I Lisa Murkowski is not up this year. But you know she's. She knows how to work Alaska. She lost her primary the last time she ran and then rob ran as a write in candidate is so she's not as fearful of the Republican base as some of the others are. Susan Collins I'm told that if she votes against Kavanagh that she is unlikely to ever be nominated again by the Republican Party and the state of Maine. So they log on their own calculations to worry about not just in terms of self preservation. But in terms of what they think they can do for their states in the senate. Jon Karl watching the miss this morning are senior White House correspondent John what are we to read in the senator Susan Collins revealing that she would vote. Yes this morning to cloture. But that she would appear later on this afternoon in and deliver a speech about whatever it is her final decision will be. I think it's. Nearly impossible to imagine that Susan Collins would vote yes on this the critical vote and in. Change her mind her or her vote differently on on the final vote. She has her big speech at 3 o'clock the most immediate impact of her. Saying that she is not announcing yes how she will vote on the final. Oh vote I think is a way to make sure that there is a little bit of drama left and there's a lot of attention and we will all be watching her speech. I'm sure she is a lot to say but I completely agree would want. Mary Bruce has said about all of collins' comments and now this votes. They all points in the direction of her voting yes on the final confirmation I think what we have seen here David. Is we have seen that up Brett Cavanaugh will be. A Supreme Court justice. Jon Karl watching this morning. And again next key and crucial vote is just and you sing. Senator Joseph Manchin Democrat of West Virginia courses tennis final vote a but he did vote yes this morning. To end the debate into whether or not Brett Cavanaugh should be appointed to the court. And as Jon Karl just said some some very strong indicators this morning and it looks like Brett Cavanaugh. Will be the next Supreme Court justice if that does happen. That swing seat on the Supreme Court will shift that court to more conservative leaning for generation. A monumental move. And historic moment we're watching the first round of this they'll play out now and of course it's no guarantee of what could come as early as tomorrow what. Some very strong indicators that what were witnessing this morning. Is. Very positive purple Brett Cavanaugh and for president trump and the White House which is watching this very closely. I do want to bring in Terry Moran who has covered the supreme court for years for us here at ABC and Terry wasn't lost on you that it is very rare. Perhaps we haven't seen this in our lifetime when they retired Supreme Court justice weighs in on the eve of this cloture vote. Retired justice John Paul Stevens at an event that had been planned for sometime this on this that he planned to say this on the eve of this vote. But he did reveal that. He changed his views for reasons that had no relationship to Brett Cavanaugh is intellectual particularly. But he didn't reveal the last 24 hours that quote I feel his performance in the hearings ultimately changed my nine and disqualified NL for the Supreme Court. That was an extraordinary review of David. John Paul Stevens says he just as long time appointed by president Ford a lifelong Republican. You voted liberal. But was seen on this court by all of the other members as very cordial very correct in the way he approached a justices duties and for him to come forward. I'm Brett Cavanaugh in particular a judge and appellate court judge here in Washington known to these justices they socialize with a rising star. For generation among conservative lawyers are there any reason to come out and say his performance at the hearing. Change my mind to say publicly remind that was her BS in the galleries expressions of approval or disapproval are not permitted in the senate galleries. On this boat the a's are 51. The no's are 49 the motion is agreed to. And so there you have it the votes are there to invoke cloture. We just heard the gavel their moments ago. They have now voted to end debate in two nominees judge Brett Cavanaugh. This now sets things in motion for an historic vote as early as tomorrow. Which could lead to Brett Cavanaugh becoming the next Supreme Court justice. There was a very key vote this morning and of course it's not a guarantee of which waigel go tomorrow. But senator Joseph Manchin Jon Karl voted yes this morning and he said to reporters just this morning that he was. Not ready he was undecided and many headed back into that room where the findings of this FBI investigation. Still remain locked up. He actually said that he was gonna remain undecided until he walked into the chamber for that vote and then adding some drama. He didn't vote when his name was first call he was one of the final senators two to cast their vote. And what mission does first of all if if he had voted no this still would have passed to just it would have needed to tie breaking vote by the vice president. But what it does. Is it makes this not quite a total partisan vote you have a single Democrat that has voted to move forward on Brett Cavanaugh likely. To vote to confirm Brett Cavanaugh. Without that single vote a senator from West Virginia state that Donald Trump. One in a landslide without that single vote. We would see here we'd be headed towards the first. Supreme Court justice to be confirmed strictly on party lines this is about as close as you can get a single vote from the other side. It's such a break with the with history with precedent David. Meal course each had three democratic votes and all of the Republicans that was. Intel then the most partisan vote we have ever seen but. Remember that the way it has been throughout history is that Supreme Court nominee is have been confirms. By wide bipartisan margins Ruth Bader Ginsburg hero to liberals. One. Confirmation. With only three senators voting no. It's in Scalia hero to conservatives. Was confirmed to the Supreme Court 9820. Not a single no vote. Now here we are at a state war reflecting that divide the political divided or in our country. You re reflecting what we saw with these these hearings. We have a supreme. Courts nominee. Headed towards what will will be I would argue be almost certain confirmation but with just a single vote. From the other political party just a single vote. Otherwise. Party line. Party line with the addition of one Democrat. Joseph Manchin as you point out being a significant and key vote they did not need to vice president. To put them over the top in this case Joseph Manchin from West Virginia Democrat obviously helping them to get the 51 votes that they needed. But as Jon Karl was reporting so much of this we have not seen before in the proceedings leading up to the next Supreme Court justice. We saw Mary Bruce this nominee do was sit down interview with his wife. Which was something we had not seen before. We saw the op Ed in the Wall Street Journal in this eleventh hour actually talking about his temperament. And suggesting that perhaps he was too emotional at times. And that up that dough in a national newspaper. Was likely geared straight to those four senators who were undecided who might also have been deliberating. This issue of temperament that was raised in addition to these allegations that were raised against him by doctor Christine glossy four there was then. The debate over temperament how we displayed himself from from the senate judiciary hearing in U conceded quote where it up on the screen from that. Wall Street Journal op that I might have been too emotional at times I know that my tone was sharp. And I said a few things I should not have said but an op Ed in the Wall Street Journal. And a sit down interview with his wife simply things we have not seen before merry. A remarkable way to have a Supreme Court nominee deliver his closing argument here and it was not just to the American public but it was very clearly aimed also at those undecided key swing votes. -- not hitting on some of their concerns about his temperament about his tone about how forceful his testimony was here on the hill last week and of course. Those concerns about his partisan attacks. On his political opponents Kavanagh very clearly laying out in that op Ed trying to defend himself defend his testimony interestingly making that admission that that he said some things. He should not have said it will be interesting as we going chased down some of these senators after the boat drifted. To hear what they thought. A cabin on final argument there whether that played any role in their decision making here because when you look at those four undecideds three of them. Senator Collins fender flake. Senator mansion now being a yes to support his confirmation. David ultimately if they have the senate votes tomorrow on final passage as they did here today it happened at horse will be confirmed. No question about it that's the bottom line what we see here this morning if it's an indicator of what's to come tomorrow Greg Kavanagh will be the next justice. On the Supreme Court is Mary Bruce just points out three of the four undecided senators voting yes to cloture this morning to end the debate. In the Brett Cavanaugh three of the four the only one to vote no was Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Republican senator from Alaska they have all been facing significant pressure from constituents back home war really divided this country. Extremely divided on this choice for the Supreme Court. Not unlike what we saw in twice sixteen. But we did say and and Mary was talking about this moments ago in that op Ed he was talking directly to be senators. And in doing so to the American people about the temperament he displayed in front of that Senate Judiciary Committee a week ago answering questions about. The allegations about his behavior back in his college days and during his high school years we saw that moment where. Senator Klobuchar had asked the question about whether or not he never blacked out in. Asked and whether or not he remembered drinking too much at times and he turned the questioning around and said I don't know have you senator. It was uncomfortable to watch for many Americans it's a moment that played. Again and again on cable news him. In news reports that followed that brought up this question of temperament and Terry Moran I wanted to bring you back in because this was the quote in his opening statement. This was not the reaction to a question that was asked of them but this was something in his scripted prepared statement he said this whole two week effort has been a calculated. And orchestrated political hit fueled with a parent pent up anger about president trump 12016 election. Fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record revenge on behalf of the clintons. And you are a veteran of the court have you ever heard a nominee talk in such sharp. Partisan terms and again these were his prepared statements. That's right then that's an important point and Brett Cavanaugh is a writer he writes as a judge that's what he does every day I'm all that I've covered the Bork nomination of Clarence Thomas nomination they were angry. At what was happening to them. It never became as naked Lee partisan. As what Cavanaugh said there and I think that's what justice John Paul Stevens was remarking on when you. What when he's talking to the anger and the tears those are understandable emotions I think for a man who was saying he was falsely accused of something in front of his family in the world. And that was incredibly painful so anger and tears were a natural reaction to that. It's what does anger and tears revealed beneath I think that had. People concerned Brett Cavanaugh with a loyal partisan Republican lawyer for Ken Starr. In the Florida election contest in the the bush gore election in the bush White House. And I think that people were concerned about what was revealed about his partisanship. Not as much about the emotions. Terry Moran stay with us he's live with us from the Supreme Court we are on the year with breaking coverage this morning of a crucial vote. Involving Supreme Court nominee Brett Cavanaugh is now 11 AM here in the east ABM in the west and I want to play you the moment in bill on the senate floor. This moment was crucial in pushing Brett Cavanaugh closer to that post on the Supreme Court take a look. On this vote the a's are 51 the no's are 49 the motion is agreed to. He heard the gavel there. Just moments ago 51 votes to now limit this debate. Of course senators can change their vote between today. And the final vote which come could come as early as tomorrow. It's rare that that actually happens. And senator Joseph mansion. A Democrat from West Virginia helping them to get those 51 votes. But was the only Democrat to vote yes. To push this forward this nomination of Brett cam and onto the Supreme Court. Of the four undecided senators who we have been watching very closely over the past 24 hours only one voted no Lisa Murkowski. Republican senator of Maine. Who voted no. In moving this forward we do know that she like so many senators. Has heard from constituents back home and has heard from survivors of sexual assault. It's been reported that she met with summon her office just yesterday and there have been so many of those poignant moments over the course of the last week or so we saw Jeff flake. In the elevator just before the hearings last week. Where survivors of sexual assault approached him in the elevator. One of the women saying look at me when I'm talking to you and it's widely believed that it was that moment. That and then led senator Jeff flake with his colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee. He then joined Democrats in pushing for this one week pause. His colleague and friend from across the aisle center Chris coombs. Suggesting that Jeff flake then going along with the idea. And really changed the course of this whole process that's the whole reason there was an additional week for that FBI investigation. Many Republicans have come out to say that they believe the FBI investigation. Not only was thorough and complete but did not offer any core operating. Evidence that doctor Christine glossy Ford's testimony that the argument from Democrats some calling this sham. Saying that many of the names that were put forward that who could have cooperated doctor Ford's testimony. And the testimony of Deborah Ramirez although she didn't testify but did talk with the FBI to maintain innings before that could help back up their stories. Simply were not reached out to by the FBI. All alternately questions about whether or not the White House controlled who they could talk to. And why this was ten or so people who were. Reached by the FBI and wide at number wasn't greater than that that will be something debated for some time to come. He seemed to tweak there at the bottom of your screen president trump tweeting very proud of the US senate for voting yes to advance the nomination of judge Brett Cavanaugh. Again debate can still continue. With this certainly minimizes it and now pushes forward this final vote which could come as early as tomorrow. And strong indicators today as John call reported this very well means that. Judge Brent Cavanaugh could be the next Supreme Court justice it would be an historic shift for the court. He now would occupy that swing seat. Court would then leaned conservative. And likely for generations to come. I want to bring in Cokie Roberts because Cokie ultimately the other question here. He's about how. Women around this country are are seeing this boat here this morning not just women but men the remaining men who have survived sexual assault as well but the women who have come to the capital. It came from Alaska it came from Maine became from all over this country to try to. Influence some of those senators who were. Are undecided some of those four. And and what do you suppose how how are they receiving where this is headed this morning. I'm sure that you're going to see very. Star Kim and I emotional reactions to this. But note we've been seen in any way even before this this very contentious hearing. A big gap between the way men and women are reacting. To judge Kavanagh of course is not as big is the partisan gap with Republicans supported him Democrats not. But there is also a female gap particularly among independents. And so they you're going to see a reaction to this it is not fair. The judge Kavanagh on to bear the weight of all of the women who have been sexually harassed in history. But that is part of what has been going on here. And again his response to it exacerbated it. Kitchen on David even beyond. What it means for him. Women in the election and all of that we have real problems now was two of our major institutions of government. You have a man who's very likely join the Supreme Court. Who would despite his. I am an op Ed in the Wall Street Journal today saying that he would be a fair and impartial judge testified in a very very partisan fashion. Before the senate. And you have a sentiment that is so divided. That the and you had as have senator there one democratic vote. For Kavanagh one Republican vote essentially against him. You know throughout much of our history the senate voice who voted members of the Supreme Court they didn't even call the roles they just said find. And that is just gone and the speeches that we heard today. Leading up to this vote from the leaders of the senate the two leaders of the Judiciary Committee. And then the two leaders of the senate Chuck Schumer Democrat of New York Mitch McConnell Republican of Kentucky. Was sold partisan against each other. And accusing hard right and hard left groups. Of influencing the members it's going to be very very hard for the senate to come back from this nomination. In a way that they can cooperate with each other and it's going to be very very hard for the court. Because then they're going to have a certain class of them. Just an important point coking I want to bring Terry Moran on what Cokie Roberts was just pointing out Terry and it's so true that we have not heard the partisan rhetoric when it comes to Supreme Court nominee used by that nominee himself. I'll let alone the Senate Judiciary Committee and as Cokie was alluding to we heard from Chuck Grassley this morning and in Dianne Feinstein. Clearly the partisan lines drawn and you would someone expect that in this moment in our country from the senate. And certainly from the White House but the Supreme Court itself. Has been somewhat insulated from that for so many years and I'd be so curious although we might never know. So curious what the justices on the court think of what they've witnessed over the course of the last week or two. That's a great question David my hunch is they dread what's happening however they feel about Brett Cavanaugh. This place. Still has very high estimation in the opinion of most Americans they they they respect the supreme court for the most part. It is damaged itself in recent years with a couple of rulings in our partisan times that one side of the other didn't like. But you noticed the Supreme Court doesn't have any way of enforcing. It's opinions except its own legitimacy in the minds and hearts of Americans and I think when it gets dragged into it. Basically the partisan sewer that mud fight that were all in. It harms this court. Chief Justice John Roberts is an institution with the is practiced here for thirty years before it became Chief Justice he loves this institution. I know what everything's about Brett Cavanaugh he will be concerned going forward how to why protect that reputation which at the end of the day is the true source of the courts of. Authorities Terry Moran our thanks to you again and I want to bring in Mary gruesome. Interest in color coming into us from the chamber from our reporter Trish turner who was inside Mary senators. Collins and Murkowski who where have been side by side throw much of these proceedings were greeted. Right after the vote senators of both parties coming over to shake their hands and we we would have to note this morning obviously that the two and voted differently. Yet traced in the room there reporting that they were greeted by both parties like celebrities obviously for very different reasons Democrats coming over to shake Lisa Murkowski is hand the Republican from Alaska and joined Democrats. In voting no on Kavanagh just now and of course Republicans and coming over to shake Susan Collins it can't Republican of Maine of course means that incredible. A difficult decision we know this is wanna she's really been wrestling with for the last several weeks and days he's been meeting with constituents in her office meeting. Went with people on both sides of this debate trying to wrestle with what she was going to do they've forced joining her party. In supporting brick house. They're groups are thinks you again and Jon Karl bottom line here this morning 51 votes to. Minimize the debate as we move forward and to move closer to that final vote on Brett Cavanaugh it is looking. Clearer by the moment the Brett Cavanaugh could very well be the next Supreme Court justice they have got to be happy over the White House. App slowly and there's also been a clear political impact here as well David. If you look at the senators that were in play here. So many from states. The trip and Donald Trump carry dramatically. Republicans believe that this boat has energize their core supporters. Has energize their core supporters in a way that makes the election. Looking a lot more. Up positive for Republicans this especially in the senate races than it did before this whole controversy over capital erupted. All right Jon Karl Cokie Roberts mayor Bruce Terry Moran thinks all of you joining us for this live coverage this morning and historic moment. Voting yes to cloture which simply means they will now close to debate and Brett Cavanaugh for the most part they will move. Even closer to that final vote which could come as early as tomorrow and it very much looks like. Brett Cavanaugh must be over lead to this morning it looks like there is a very good chance that he will be approved for the Supreme Court. We will have team coverage of this historic moment. In our nation's capital later on world news tonight and for many view we return you to our regular programming. For many it's GMA and we'll see you later on today it. This has been a special report. From BBC news.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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