Both of Georgia’s Republican U.S. senators plan to back Brett Kavanaugh this weekend for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court after senior Sen. Johnny Isakson said he plans to vote to confirm the nominee.
The Republican’s announcement came within hours of the FBI transmitting its latest background probe to Capitol Hill. Senators filtered into a secure room in the bowels of the U.S. Capitol on Thursday to read the report, which summarized the law enforcement agency’s investigation of some of the sexual assault allegations levied against President Donald Trump’s second pick for the high court.
Isakson, who had previously committed to voting for Kavanaugh but stepped back after Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations went public, said in an interview that the FBI did not have any information to corroborate the claims made by the California professor or other accusers.
“After seeing the information this morning and hearing the briefing by the FBI agents and the other people involved, it was clear to me that no information had changed in terms of facts that we were already aware of,” the three-term senator said in an interview. Kavanaugh, he said in a separate statement, would “bring a strong commitment to the Constitution and the rule of law to the Supreme Court.”
Republican Sen. David Perdue, Isakson’s Georgia colleague, announced last week that he would support Kavanaugh and suggested the new FBI report was unneeded and unwarranted.
In a searing speech on the Senate floor Wednesday, Perdue blamed Democrats for sullying the reputation of a qualified judicial nominee due to their blind resistance to Trump’s agenda.
“This body, the U.S. Senate, has become nothing more than a bully pulpit for someone’s special cause when it should be a deliberative body,” he said.
Both Georgia senators are expected to vote Friday morning in favor of cutting off Senate debate on Kavanaugh’s nomination, a key procedural step that will tee up a final confirmation vote as soon as Saturday afternoon. Whether the D.C. circuit judge has enough support to be confirmed depends on the opinions of four undecided centrists — Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin and Republican Sens. Susan Collins, Jeff Flake and Lisa Murkowski — who on Thursday afternoon said they were still reviewing the FBI’s probe.
Lawmakers have faced a torrent of public attention in recent weeks, particularly after Ford’s and Kavanaugh’s blockbuster testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Protesters picketed Isakson’s and Perdue’s Atlanta offices, urging them to reject Kavanaugh, and Perdue was driven into an airport bathroom on Monday after a group of liberal activists confronted him and his wife.
Perdue blamed Democrats for fanning the flames of outrage against Kavanaugh and sullying the reputation of the U.S. Senate. He compared their tactics to those used by the Nazi paramilitary in the 1930s, comments that drew rebukes from some local Jewish groups.
“In the midst of a very heated, highly partisan political atmosphere, one can argue a certain point of view without reflexively resorting to a period in Germany that thankfully does not exist in our country,” said Dov Wilker of the Atlanta chapter of the American Jewish Committee.
Democratic leaders have slammed their GOP counterparts for steamrolling Kavanaugh’s nomination for political purposes without taking in the testimony of witnesses who could have corroborated the testimony of Ford and a second accuser who came forward in a New Yorker article.
Isakson has refrained from criticizing Democrats directly, even as he praised Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley for his handling of the confirmation process. He said he feared the confirmation fight exposed an ugly rift in the Senate that will be difficult to get past.
”There were things said that shouldn’t have been said that really weren’t appropriate on both sides,” he said. “In general, it just kind of degenerated there for a while, and that’s unfortunate because it’s a tremendous responsibility and it’s a tremendous job.”
He said lawmakers must work to mend fences for the good of the institution.
“We can’t let it become so personal that it affects or blinds our judgment,” he said. “If you do that, it becomes a real problem, and I don’t want to be a part of that.”