Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh won a narrow victory in a first test vote in the Senate on Friday, as a pair of key Senators announced they would support President Donald Trump's choice for the U.S. Supreme Court, all but guaranteeing that Kavanaugh will be approved by the full Senate on Saturday, capping weeks of a highly charged political confirmation fight on Capitol Hill.
Several hours after the Senate voted 51 to 49 to force an end to debate on the Kavanaugh nomination, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) went to the floor to announce she would support Kavanaugh in Saturday's final vote, delivering the key vote for President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee.
Labeling the confirmation process a 'caricature of a gutter-level political campaign,' Collins said "special interest groups wrongly whipped their followers into a frenzy" about the Kavanaugh choice.
"One can only hope that the process has hit rock bottom with this Kavanaugh nomination," Collins said, in a rebuke to vocal opponents of the judge.
On the issue of sexual misconduct allegations leveled against Kavanaugh by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, Collins said she believes that Ford is the victim of a sexual assault, but says there was simply no corroborating evidence to pin that on the judge.
"I do not believe that these charges can fairly prevent Judge Kavanaugh from serving on the court," Collins said, even as she said the MeToo movement 'is real,' and criticized advisers to Dr. Ford, over how they handled her private letter to a Democratic lawmaker in Congress.
Collins had been heavily targeted - both at home in Maine and here on Capitol Hill - by groups opposed to the President's choice for the Supreme Court.
In fact, the Maine Senator had barely gotten a few words out on the Senate floor when demonstrators in the Senate galleries interrupted her, yelling, "Vote no!"
The announcement by Collins gave GOP leaders and the White House 50 votes in favor of Kavanaugh - the bare minimum, when paired with a possible tie-breaking vote by Vice President Mike Pence.
Earlier on Friday, Collins had joined a slender majority of Senators in voting to shut off debate on the Kavanaugh nomination, setting up a final vote around 5 pm on Saturday afternoon, if all remaining debate time is used.
One Senator from each party broke ranks on that vote - Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) voted for cloture, while Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) broke with the White House and voted against proceeding to a final vote.
Moments after the announcement by Collins, Manchin released a statement saying he would vote for Kavanaugh on Saturday, all but guaranteeing a clear majority for President Trump's nominee.
Democrats could only stand on the sidelines and watch, knowing they needed help from several Republican Senators to sink the Kavanaugh nomination, as Democrats failed to deliver an embarrassing rebuke to President Trump.
"On every level, Brett Kavanaugh has completely disqualified himself to sit on the highest court in our land," said Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), as Democrats took to the floor to reject the Kavanaugh nomination.
"Evidence shows Kavanaugh has lied repeatedly," said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). "Liars do NOT belong on the Supreme Court."
"This was not a search for the truth," said Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), as Democrats bitterly complained about what they said was a less-than-robust investigation by the FBI of allegations surrounding Judge Kavanaugh.
"Judge Kavanaugh's positions, as well as his temperament, are not befitting of the Supreme Court," said Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ).
"We will not only be judged by voters this November; we will be judged by history," said Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE).
But Democrats didn't have the votes to carry the day, and as of now - Republicans seem like they will be proclaiming victory on Saturday, both in the Senate, and at the White House for allies of President Trump.