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Senate Democrats suggested in a new letter Wednesday to the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee that past Federal Bureau of Investigation background checks on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh include evidence of inappropriate behavior - claims quickly refuted by Republicans as "baseless innuendo".

If Kavanaugh clears Friday's procedural hurdle, that would set up a final confirmation vote as early as Saturday.

Republicans hold a slight 51-49 majority in the Senate, and with Vice President Mike Pence playing the role of tie-breaker if necessary, they would need a minimum of 50 votes to confirm Kavanaugh.

The poll also showed the largest gap in approval for a Supreme Court nominee Gallup had measured to date, as 84 percent of Republicans were in favor of Kavanaugh's confirmation as opposed to 13 percent of Democrats.

Senator Flake was instrumental last week in getting Mr Trump to order an FBI investigation into the allegations against Mr Kavanaugh, after he was confronted in a lift by victims of sexual assault. Susan Collins of ME and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who are seen as swing votes on the Kavanaugh nomination, also rebuked Trump.

About two hours after Flake's appearance, Collins also took exception to Trump's remarks, telling reporters, "The president's comments were just plain wrong".

Speaking at a campaign rally Tuesday night, Trump cast doubt on Ford's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee by mocking her for not knowing the answers to questions such as how she had gotten to the high school party in the 1980s where she says Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her, an allegation he has repeatedly denied.

Although Kavanaugh has denied the allegations of three women, they proved so controversial that Trump directed the FBI to re-open a background investigation.

Beyond that alleged incident in suburban Maryland, Kavanaugh is accused of having exposed himself to Deborah Ramirez, a Yale University classmate, at a party there when both were undergraduates; and he is further accused by Julie Swetnick of having participated in abusive behavior toward women during his high school years, along with Judge and others.

Agents spoke with Mark Judge, a friend of Kavanaugh's who Ford said was in the room when she was assaulted.

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"I'm the first person to say I want to hear from Dr Ford". That's the only thing I remember. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, who is undecided on Kavanaugh, trailing her Republican challenger Kevin Cramer by eight points.

"You can't take it out on other people, the president's insensitive remarks, " he said.

The reopened FBI investigation was prompted by reservations expressed last by Sen. I don't know. I don't know.

"Man up and say it's your decision, not ours, " Schumer said.

Meanwhile, Democrats and a few Republicans had raised concerns over the amount of freedom granted to U.S. federal investigative agency to conduct a lightning-fast probe in a decades old high-level case.

She said both Prof Ford and Mr Kavanaugh had already been questioned "in the most public way possible".

At a campaign rally in MS rally on Tuesday, the audience laughed as Trump ran through a list of what he described as holes in Ford's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. I don't know. But I had one beer.

"Where's the house? I don't know!"

Grassley and Feinstein have agreed to giving members equal access to the report, he said.

"Every single word Mr Kavanaugh has said has been picked apart ... yet if anybody says anything about the accusations that have been thrown against him, that's totally off limits and outrageous".


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