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Murkowski: Kavanaugh ‘not the right man for the court’

Sen. Lisa Murkowski was the lone Republican to oppose advancing Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination on Friday morning. | M. Scott Mahaskey/POLITICO

Kavanaugh Confirmation

The Alaska Republican calls her decision to oppose him ‘the most difficult’ of her Senate career.


Alaska GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski said she arrived at her decision to vote against Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court at the last possible moment Friday before opposing him on the Senate floor.

“I did not come to a decision on this until walking into the vote this morning,” Murkowski said.

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Speaking to reporters at the Capitol, Murkowski described a wrenching decision based on issues that are “bigger than a nominee.” Murkowski had been publicly agonizing over her vote for days, meeting with victims of sexual assault and even revealing her own “#MeToo moment” to a local reporter as she wrestled with the allegations of misconduct against Kavanaugh. The nominee fiercely denied the accusations and most Republican senators dismissed them as uncorroborated.

“The truth is that none of this has been fair,” Murkowski said, including to Kavanaugh. Murkowski called Kavanaugh “a good man” but added that he’s “not the right man for the court.”

Murkowski was the lone Republican to oppose advancing Kavanaugh’s nomination on Friday morning. She described a long attempt to grapple with “what is fair and what is right.” And she said that she had weighed the “credibility of our institutions” as part of her thought process. She also called it “the most difficult” decision she’d had to make as a senator.

“And I’ve had some interesting ones,” she said.

Conservatives immediately raged against Murkowski’s vote after she cast it, with pundit Laura Ingraham musing on Twitter that “maybe it’s time to run for Senate” and slamming the Alaskan for having“abandoned all principles of due process and fairness.”

But back in Murkowski’s home state, she faced no shortage of political pressure to vote against President Donald Trump’s nominee. The Alaska Federation of Natives, a large group of native peoples in the Last Frontier, came out against Kavanaugh before Christine Blasey Ford’s sexual misconduct claim came to light, citing the judge’s past rulings on their issues.

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker, running for reelection this fall as an independent, joined with his No. 2 to oppose Kavanaugh, citing concerns about both tribal issues and health care.

Trump’s nominee ultimately may get confirmed on Saturday regardless of Murkowski’s no vote, given that Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said Friday he plans to vote yes. That announcement brings Kavanaugh within one committed yes vote of confirmation.

Elana Schor contributed to this report.

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