The fight over Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation has led to increased security at the Capitol, The Associated Press reported.
Some lawmakers are using police escorts to fend off aggressive confrontations from protesters, the report states. Central to the battle over Kavanaugh is the likelihood that he would have the fifth deciding vote for a conservative majority on the nine-member court.
Emotions are also running high over an FBI investigation into the sexual assault allegations raised against Kavanaugh. The investigation has been completed, and was made available for senators to review this morning.
What is going on?
Over the past few days, Capitol police have arrested “dozens of people” for “unlawfully demonstrating” in Senate office buildings, according to the report.
Three police officers escorted Sen. Susan Collins, (R-Maine) from a hearing Wednesday. Collins is viewed as a key undecided vote.
Outside Collins’ office in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, police threatened to clear a public hallway and blocked reporters from approaching her. A Collins spokesperson had no comment about her security detail, the report said.
Republican senators have said they are concerned about confrontations with protesters that have happened at their Senate offices, their homes, and public places such as restaurants and airports. Some lawmakers have had their private information posted online.
A former Senate staff member, Jackson Cosko, 27, of Washington, faces charges for posting personal information about one or more senators online, as TheBlaze reported last night. Cosko was charged late Wednesday with making public restricted personal information, unauthorized access of a government computer and other crimes, according to the report.
From January 2017 to May 2018, Cosko worked for Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire as a legislative correspondent/systems administrator, the report states. A spokesperson for Hassan had no comment Wednesday night. Cosko also worked in the past for the Senate Judiciary Committee’s ranking Democratic member, Dianne Feinstein (Calif.).
Republican lawmakers had discussed security issues earlier this week at a private luncheon.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, (R-Ky.) has said senators will not be intimidated while performing their jobs.
There is “a lot of unprecedented activity taking place,” said Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.)
“People have been acting out in ways that really is inappropriate,” Corker said Wednesday. “The polarity we have right now and the way people are responding to it — let’s face it, the nation is very, very divided. People are resentful and angry.
“This is the worst it’s been since I’ve been here,” said Corker, who is retiring in January after serving two terms in the Senate.
Last week, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was forced to leave a restaurant. Other lawmakers have had “organized far-left protesters” camping outside of their homes and offices.
“There is no chance in the world they’re going to scare us out of doing our duty,” McConnell said.
Two women approached Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) outside the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing room on Wednesday and tried to give him a written statement against Kavanaugh. Hatch, a Kavanaugh supporter, refused to take the paper and kept walking. The women reportedly followed him and continued to shout questions at him.
Last week, Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake was confronted by women at an elevator during a televised exchange that went viral. Flake later forced Republicans to delay voting on Kavanaugh until the FBI can complete another background investigation.
The Senate is expected to have a cloture vote Friday on Kavanaugh’s nomination, which means that a final floor vote could happen in the next couple of days.