Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday that he believed the fierce battle to confirm U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh has energized GOP voters ahead of November's midterm elections.
“Ironically, the behavior of, first, the Democrats on Senate Judiciary Committee, and then the overreach of the protestors at the Capitol have actually energized the Republican base, particularly in the red states where we’re trying to pick up seats out across America,” the Kentucky Republican told CBS' "Face The Nation" on Sunday. “So, I want to thank the other side for the tactics that have allowed us to kind of energize and get involved our own voters.”
He added, "But everybody knows how energized the Democratic side is for a whole variety of different reasons, and so our energy and enthusiasm was lagging behind until this."
Kavanaugh was sworn in Saturday evening as an associate justice to the high court after the Senate narrowly confirmed him, 50-48, largely along party lines. Protesters chanted, jeered and marched across the Capitol to oppose his confirmation—even pushing past the police line and storming up steps to pound on the doors of the U.S. Supreme Court.
In his "Face The Nation" appearance, McConnell also thanked Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia for being the lone member of his party to vote in a favor of Kavanaugh — but sidestepped a question about whether he would ask President Donald Trump not to campaign against Manchin.
"Joe Manchin is still a Democrat," he said, laughing, "and we're trying to hold the majority."
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During his confirmation process, Kavanaugh was accused by three women of sexual misconduct during his high school and college years: Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick. Ford, who said Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers, testified in an emotionally charged hearing about her allegation before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Kavanaugh has denied all allegations against him.
The confirmation fight led the White House to ask the FBI to reopen Kavanaugh's background investigation for one week to look into the allegations. When lawmakers were provided access to the FBI report last week before voting, Democrats blasted the probe, calling it a "sham" and "a horrific cover-up," claiming the Trump administration severely limited who could be interviewed.
Republicans, including Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who cast a pivotal vote in favor of Kavanaugh's confirmation Saturday, called the supplemental investigation a thorough one that provided no corroboration for any claims of misconduct.
In a Fox News interview on Sunday, McConnell called Kavanaugh's confirmation his proudest moment as a senator.
"I think the most important thing the Senate is involved in is the personnel business," he told Fox News' Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday." "The most important are the lifetime appointments to the courts, and we’ve prioritized handling President Trump’s outstanding nominations for the Supreme Court."
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who also appeared on "Fox News Sunday," said he was "happy as a clam" to have helped Kavanaugh succeed.
“I'm glad that those who tried to overturn the rule of law and replace it with mob rule lost. I've never been more pissed in my life," Graham said. "I voted for [Supreme Court Justices] Sotomayor and Kagan, I would have never done this to them. This was character assassination; this was wanting power too much. To the extent that I came to the aid of this good man and helped defeat this debacle, I am happy as a clam.”
Collins defended her decision to vote in favor of Kavanaugh's confirmation in a pair of interviews Sunday, echoing points she laid out in a more than 40 minute speech on the Senate floor Friday. She told CNN's "State of the Union" that she believed Ford's testimony that she was sexually assaulted, but that she doubted Kavanaugh was her attacker.
"Let me say this, I found Dr. Ford's testimony to be heart-wrenching, painful compelling and I believe that she believes what she testified to, I don't think she was coming forward with the political motive," said Collins.
But, she added, "I do not believe that Brett Kavanaugh was her assailant."
Collins told CBS' "Face The Nation" that she hopes this moment compels victims of sexual assault to come forward sooner.
"The one silver lining that I hope will come from this is that more women will press charges now when they are assaulted," Collins said.
CORRECTION (Oct. 8, 2018 5:43 p.m. ET): An earlier version of this article misstated the first name of the host of “Fox News Sunday.” He is Chris Wallace, not Mike Wallace.