President Trump is poised to secure the biggest victory of his stormy first term, one that could have an impact on the nation for decades after he leaves office.
The all-but-certain confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the high court today could shape the ideological balance of the Supreme Court on everything from abortion rights to climate change to presidential powers.
But it didn’t come easy and the battle is far from over.
Kavanaugh’s nomination was once viewed as secure but all that went out the window when charges of sexual assault lodged against the judge nearly blew up his chances.
Kavanaugh himself saved his nomination with his fiery and confrontational testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which — while turning off many Americans — helped shore up support among Republicans.
Trump and White House aides were on the edge of their seats yesterday waiting for Maine U.S. Sen. Susan Collins to decide her vote on Kavanaugh. But they breathed a sigh of relief when Collins signaled her support, all but sealing the deal for Kavanaugh.
But the likely Kavanaugh win doesn’t mean Democrats are giving up. They are hoping for a flood of angry voters to turn out at the polls next month and toss Republicans out of control of Congress.
The Kavanaugh drama, which has sharpened the partisan divide across America, has the potential to turn around key Senate contests that Republicans are counting on to hold on to power.
Republicans say the Kavanaugh court battle has fired up their conservative base, and could help them in key swing states like Tennessee, West Virginia and Nevada.
But generally losers in any drama like the Kavanaugh nomination will fuel more voters than the winning side, and that’s why Republicans are nervously assessing their chances.
If Democrats do seize control of Congress, all bets are off, and it could even threaten Kavanaugh’s seat and Trump’s presidency.
One top House Democrat has already signaled that he will open up a new investigation of Kavanaugh if Democrats are in control of the House, a move that could throw the court into turmoil.
U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler said he plans to move forward with the investigation of Kavanaugh to counter the “whitewash” of an investigation by the FBI into sexual assault claims by California psychologist Christine Blasey Ford.
Democrats are also likely to try to move forward with some kind of impeachment action against Trump, and some Democrats are actually talking about impeachment of Kavanaugh as a serious option, claiming he perjured himself in his testimony before the Judiciary panel. That would trigger yet another titanic battle that splits America even further.
It would take a two-thirds vote in the Senate to impeach Kavanaugh, so that seems unlikely. But the impeachment battle could drag on for months, and hurt Trump’s ability to push through his agenda.