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Kavanaugh avoids Dem traps as chaotic hearing winds down, confirmation vote looms

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Judge Brett Kavanaugh on Friday moved a step closer to being seated to the Supreme Court, as four days of chaotic and tumultuous hearings were wrapping with Kavanaugh largely having swatted away Democratic attempts to derail his nomination.

Democrats spent the week trying to catch Kavanaugh in a lie and employ old emails to cast him as a radical conservative. But Republicans say they believe Democrats failed to land a fatal blow.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he had no doubts “whatsoever” that Kavanaugh would ultimately be confirmed.

“I think any doubts anybody might have had been dispelled by his virtuoso performance before the Judiciary Committee,” McConnell told radio host Hugh Hewitt. ‘I mean, it’s stunning. He’s just a stellar nomination in every respect.”

After grilling Kavanaugh for two days, senators on Friday heard from outside witnesses both supporting and opposing the nominee, marking the end of the hearing process. Among those invited by the Democrats on the committee was John Dean, the former Nixon White House counsel who turned against the administration during Watergate.

Dean, a Trump critic, predicted that with Kavanaugh on the high court, it will become “a weak check, at best, on presidential power.” He called the scenario “deeply troubling,” adding that there is “much to fear from an unchecked president who is inclined to abuse his powers.”

Meanwhile, members of an American Bar Association committee gave Kavanaugh their highest rating of “well qualified” based on his integrity, competence and judicial temperament.

John Tarpley, the lead evaluator in the review, told the committee Friday it was clear based on interviews with peers that Kavanaugh learned integrity at an early age. He says Kavanaugh received high praise for his knowledge of the law and for his judicial temperament, with reviewers saying he was affable and kept an open mind.

Tarpley said the ABA panel would have been hard pressed to come to any conclusion other than Kavanaugh showed “exceptional professional competence.”

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