DENVER – U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., confirmed Friday what he has hinted at for months: that he would vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court when senators vote on Saturday.
“I announced my support for Judge Kavanaugh in July, and I will be voting to approve his nomination to the Supreme Court,” Gardner said in a statement Friday afternoon—a day after a report in The Denver Post that said the senator was undecided on Kavanaugh briefly caused a stir among political reporters and people closely following the Kavanaugh nomination process.
On Friday, The Post reported that a group of Colorado women who went to Gardner’s Washington, D.C. office Thursday were told by him that he was undecided. The women told The Post they felt “abandoned” by Gardner after his staff told other reporters Thursday that Gardner would support Kavanaugh’s nomination.
Gardner said Friday that he found no further evidence in an FBI report to corroborate allegations of sexual misconduct made by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Boulder’s Deborah Ramirez against Kavanaugh, though some, including attorneys for both women, have criticized the scope in which the FBI was allowed to investigate, saying that the FBI was not allowed to interview several witnesses who came forward.
“During this confirmation process, I have supported every opportunity to ensure we have all available information before us. This included listening to hours of testimony, reading and re-reading transcripts and statements, and studying interviews of over 150 people spanning 25 years in seven FBI background investigations,” Gardner said in a statement. “No evidence was found by the FBI to corroborate the allegations made against him or to make me change the support I announced for him in July.”
Gardner said when Kavanaugh was nominated that it would be up to Democrats to “thoroughly review” Kavanaugh’s record.
“I hope my colleagues on the other side of the aisle will be thoughtful and thoroughly review this individual during the confirmation process and consider him rather than making a knee-jerk decision based on politics and nothing else,” he said at the time.
Gardner additionally said Friday that he believes people need to do “a better job” of listening to victims of sexual violence and lamented what he called a “partisan divide” in the country, though many Democrats have said Republicans didn’t take the allegations raised by Ford and Ramirez seriously. Republicans countered that argument by saying the allegations should have been brought up earlier in Kavanaugh's confirmation process and accused Democrats have playing games with his nomination.
Both Gardner and his fellow senator from Colorado, Democrat Michael Bennet, said they supported the further FBI investigation after last week's Senate Judiciary Committee vote.
“We live in a country where both sides should always be heard,” Gardner said. “Victimized women that come forward are brave and courageous. Every victim of abuse, assault, and violence has been through an unspeakable tragedy and we need to do a better job listening to them, ensuring support is available, and fighting to end abuse of any kind. I hope that the partisan divide we all feel today does not hinder the people that have bravely come forward.”
Gardner’s fellow senator from Colorado, Sen. Michael Bennet (D), also talked about partisanship in a statement about Kavanaugh’s nomination Friday, though in a different manner.
“We have exported the mindless, empty, counterproductive, unimaginative, meaningless partisanship from the floor of the Senate to the United States Supreme Court. We should be ashamed that we’re doing that to an independent branch of our government,” Bennet said in a tweet.
In a speech on the Senate floor Thursday evening, Bennet reinforced the reasons for which he said last month that he would oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination, saying he worries what Kavanaugh’s judgments might do for women’s reproductive rights, people’s health care and same-sex couples.
He also lamented Republicans doing away with the filibuster regarding Supreme Court nominees so they now only need 51 votes instead of 60, though Democrats were the first employ the “nuclear option,” when they eliminated filibusters for many presidential nominees in 2013.
Despite questions over the allegations against Kavanaugh and his judicial temperament that were raised after last week’s hearing, Kavanaugh appeared poised to be confirmed in Saturday’s vote on Friday.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) both said Friday they would vote to confirm Kavanaugh. Both had been among the key swing votes for Republicans hoping to confirm Kavanaugh. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) also indicated he would vote for Kavanaugh to be confirmed.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) voted “no” on the Friday morning vote to end debate on Kavanaugh’s nomination, hinting that she might also vote against his confirmation on Saturday. But since Republicans need only 51 votes (or 50 with Vice President Mike Pence as the tiebreaker) they appeared to have enough votes Friday to confirm Kavanaugh.
Gardner chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which is in charge of keeping the Senate in Republican hands, and he was expected to vote for Kavanaugh ahead of November’s midterms, which will be a major battle as Republicans try to hold onto their majority and Democrats try and flip and handful of seats to put their party back in power.