On Wednesday night, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell filed a procedural motion on the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in anticipation of Thursday’s release of a final FBI report on the sexual misconduct allegations lodged against him.
With the confirmation process once again in motion, all eyes have turned toward the handful of undecided senators whose votes will be key, including Democrat West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, who seemed to hint to reporters on Wednesday that he was leaning toward voting in favor of the embattled nominee.
Yes? No? Maybe?
In remarks to Fox News congressional correspondent Chad Pergram, Manchin appeared to indicate that he was focused more on Kavanaugh’s impressive professional record and his stellar reputation as an adult than any scandalous rumors of bad behavior in high school or college.
Manchin on Kavanaugh: I’m looking at the gentleman as an adult from 22 to 53. 31 years of official service. I’m looking at him as a father, as a person in the community…I mean I’m just looking at the human side of it also I think every aspect has to be looked at.
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) October 3, 2018
It is unclear whether Manchin elaborated to Pergram off the record, but many have taken Manchin’s comments here to mean that he’s leaning toward a “yes” for Kavanaugh.
Additionally, the West Virginia senator has reportedly spoken personally with President Donald Trump about Kavanaugh, and several Democrat senators have even apparently offered to cover for Manchin for breaking ranks with the party in support of Kavanaugh, suggesting that Manchin should do what he thought was best for his state and his constituents.
Speaking with reporters on Wednesday, Manchin expressed empathy for the nominee both as a father and as an adult fending off charges of indiscretions from his youth.
“I can understand also a person, who from 22 to 53, how he’s conducted his life, how he took care of his family, how he basically approached his job [was] in a responsible manner,” Manchin said.
He added: “I’m not hearing anything [negative] from the 30 years as an adult, in his professional life.”
The senator also said he understood where Kavanaugh was coming from as he angrily responded to the smears against him by Senate Judiciary Committee members.
“Basically, it was somebody who is the father of two young girls fighting back, saying, ‘That’s not the dad I am, that’s not the person I am,'” Manchin said. “That’s what I saw.”
It remains to be seen if Manchin will be a “yes” or “no” on Judge Kavanaugh, but his remarks on Wednesday — coupled with the fact that nothing major or new came out of the limited FBI investigation into the nominee — make it seem as if the West Virginia Democrat will join with Republicans in confirming Kavanaugh to the high court.