Manchin Announces Support for Kavanaugh: ‘Everybody Labored With This Decision’

Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) talked over screaming protesters on Capitol Hill on Friday to explain his decision to vote for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

The lone Democrat who has committed to confirm Kavanaugh said he "never thought" of whether he would be the 50th or 51st vote, saying every senator labored over the difficult decision. He insisted this was his decision alone when he was asked whether he followed Sen. Susan Collins (R., Maine), who became vote No. 50 in favor of Kavanaugh when she announced Friday afternoon that she will support the nominee.

"No, no, no. I think everyone labored with this," Manchin said. "Everybody labored with this decision."

"Shame on you, shame on you, shame on you!" protesters shouted all around the senator.

Manchin said he did not see the question of whether to support Kavanaugh as a "political decision," and he did not say whether there is a "place left" for him in the Democratic Party after his choice.

"I am just a West Virginian. I'm just a good ol' West Virginian," he said.

Kavanaugh has been accused of attempting to sexually assault psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford while they were both in high school. Ford testified that Kavanaugh groped her and tried to remove her clothing at a party, but he denied the accusation and the witnesses she named did not corroborate her story. After Ford's story was leaked, other allegations came to light, but they were also unsupported.

A reporter asked Manchin whether he is concerned about women who come forward with stories of abuse. The senator responded that he is concerned but could only "deal with the facts I had in front of me."

Manchin said he believes Ford told the truth about being assaulted but added the evidence does not support the contention that it was Kavanaugh.

"I believe Dr. Ford. Something happened to Dr. Ford," Manchin said. "I don't believe that the facts showed it was Brett Kavanaugh, but I believe something happened."

Many Democrats have lamented the so-called limits on the FBI's investigation into the allegations, but Manchin said it was sufficiently thorough.

"It was thorough, from what I saw," he said, adding that the FBI probe addressed what he was "concerned about."

He did say Kavanaugh's behavior last Thursday, when the nominee and Ford testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, bothered him, but he said he trusts Kavanaugh to act properly on the Supreme Court.

"Thursday bothered me. Thursday bothered me a lot, but I saw that basically—a different side," he said.

The Senate is set to vote on Kavanaugh's confirmation on Saturday evening.