US Senate Could Hold Final Kavanaugh Vote Saturday
The nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to fill an open seat on the U.S. Supreme Court is moving toward a final vote as early as Saturday.
First though, senators are on Thursday reviewing an FBI report on sexual harassment allegations Kavanaugh dated back to his teenager years.
Kavanaugh has denied the accusations.
The sharp partisan battle over the lifetime appointment to the nine-member court has polarized the U.S. Senate with the majority Republicans accusing Democrats of dragging out the process, while Democrats accuse Republicans are rushing to confirm Kavanaugh.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley said early Thursday the panel had received the FBI investigation report on these allegations. The report is confidential and senators will be allowed to read it in a special secure room in the Capitol. It is not clear what, if any, of the material will be made public.
the White House revealed it received and reviewed interview transcripts from the FBI. Officials claim the documents do not support one of the accusers, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s claims of attempted rape by Kavanaugh 36 years ago.
The White House said that after the “most comprehensive review of a Supreme Court nominee in history,” it is “fully confident” Kavanaugh will be confirmed.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced he will then proceed with what is known as a cloture vote to officially end debate about Kavanaugh’s nomination. That procedural vote could happen as early as Friday morning and set up a final vote potentially Saturday.
Republicans hold a slight 51-49 majority in the Senate, and with Vice President Mike Pence playing the role of tie-breaker if necessary, they would need a minimum of 50 votes to confirm Kavanaugh.
If confirmed, Kavanaugh — an appellate judge and judicial conservative — would replace retired Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. The nine-member court is currently operating with eight justices.
Wife of Malaysia’s Former PM Charged with Money Laundering
The wife of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was charged with 17 offenses Thursday, including money laundering, as anti-graft agents investigate billions of dollars missing from state coffers.
Najib, who lost office in May, faces 32 charges from money laundering to abuse of power and criminal breach of trust over billions of dollars that went missing from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). He has denied any wrongdoing.
It was not clear if the charges against Rosmah relate to 1MDB, but Rosmah’s arrest came after three rounds of questioning by anti-graft agents over 1MDB, from which U.S. authorities say more than $4.5 billion was misappropriated. Last Wednesday, Rosmah was questioned for nearly 13 hours.
Rosmah was charged with activities using illegal proceeds and failing to declare income tax, both covered under the anti-money laundering law.
The money laundering charges carry a penalty of up to 15 years in jail and a fine of not less than five times the value of the proceeds of any illegal transfers, or 5 million ringgit ($1.21 million), whichever is higher.
Najib also appeared at another courtroom in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday for a pretrial hearing, as he faces multiple charges in relation to about $10.6 million allegedly transferred into his account from SRC International, a former unit of scandal-ridden state fund 1MDB. Najib has plead not guilty.
Malaysians have been outraged by the seizure of around $275 million worth of cash and goods, including a vast collection of Hermes Birkin and other designer handbags, jewelry and watches from properties linked to Najib and Rosmah.
1MDB is now the subject of money laundering probes in over six countries, including the U.S., Switzerland and Singapore.