Trump’s Supreme Court nominee on track as Senate hearing ends

WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s U.S. Supreme Court pick, yesterday appeared on track for Senate confirmation after a contentious four-day hearing in which he avoided any major stumbles even as Democrats tried to derail his nomination.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, asked by conservative host Hugh Hewitt in an MSNBC interview if he had any doubts about Kavanaugh’s confirmation, replied: “None whatsoever.”

McConnell predicted that Kavanaugh, the conservative federal appeals court judge picked by Trump for a lifetime job on the top U.S. judicial body, would be on the Supreme Court when it opens its new term on Oct. 1.

Trump’s fellow Republicans control the Senate by a narrow margin. With no sign of any Republicans planning to vote against Kavanaugh, he seemed poised to win confirmation despite Democratic opposition.

“I think he made a very compelling case that he is one of the most qualified nominees, if not the most qualified, that we’ve seen for the Supreme Court of the United States, and I think I’ve seen 15 of them,” said Republican Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, who oversaw the hearing and has served in the Senate since 1981.

Kavanaugh completed two days of lengthy questioning by senators on Thursday night, keeping his composure under intense questioning by Democrats. Kavanaugh is likely to push the conservative-leaning court further to the right, if confirmed.

The hearing ended yesterday after the committee heard from outside witnesses testifying for and against the nomination, with anti-Kavanaugh protesters again interrupting the proceedings.

Among those testifying were two representatives of the American Bar Association, the leading U.S. professional group for lawyers, who said a panel that rates judicial nominees gave Kavanaugh a “well qualified” rating, the highest possible.

Trump picked Kavanaugh, 53, to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, who announced his retirement in June. After the committee votes on the nomination in the coming weeks, a final Senate vote is expected later in the month.

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