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WASHINGTON — If Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., wants the Senate to wrap up its consideration of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh this week, he probably won’t be able to wait for the FBI to do the same.

“The Senate will vote on Judge Kavanaugh here on this floor this week,” McConnell said on the Senate floor Tuesday morning. “After the FBI shares what they found, senators will have the opportunity to vote.”

Asked later in the day how long he would give senators to read and digest the FBI’s report on Kavanaugh before moving to a full Senate floor vote, McConnell downplayed the time lawmakers would need. “It shouldn’t take long,” he said.

But for the Senate to hold a final vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination by the end of this week, the GOP leader would need to start a procedural process on the Senate floor within the next day or two — well before the FBI is expected to hand over the results of its supplemental background investigation.

Senate Republicans have given the FBI until this Friday to complete the new investigation launched after Sen Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said last Friday that his support for holding a final vote would be conditional on the completion of a new probe.

Flake told reporters on Friday that the agreement was that the Senate would not move forward on the nomination until the investigation was completed. Some of his Republican colleagues vocally disagreed, arguing that the FBI investigation was just a delay tactic: The Senate, they said, should vote as soon as possible.

“If you think this is about a search for the truth, you need to put down the bong,” Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., a member of the Judiciary Committee, told reporters Tuesday. “This is about winning. This is about power. This is just, win, baby, win. It doesn’t matter what the cost. That’s all this has turned into, and it’s time to vote.”

Whenever McConnell officially starts the process, it would take around five days for it to culminate in a final vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination.

First, the majority leader would need to file a motion to end debate on the nomination. Technically, he can do this whenever he wants.

The following calendar day would be a waiting period, when there could be no votes related to the nomination.

The next day — one hour after the Senate convenes — the chamber could vote on the cloture motion to end debate. That motion used to require 60 votes. Not anymore: The number changed to a simple majority when the GOP used the nuclear option to confirm Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.

That vote would signal the start of up to 30 hours of debate, equally divided between Republicans and Democrats — though there’s a possibility that Republicans could yield back some of that time, which would shorten that time period.

Then the full Senate would vote, with just a simple majority needed to confirm Kavanaugh.

For McConnell to stick to his end-of-the-week timeline, he would have to start the process on the Senate floor by Wednesday — a risky move, since it could irk Flake, along with fellow potential Kavanaugh swing voters Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.

If both Collins and Murkowski — the only two Republicans who remain formally undecided on Kavanaugh — were to vote against the nomination, and no Democrats supported it, it would fail.

In other words: As of Tuesday, it was clear that McConnell could still technically stick to his ideal Kavanaugh vote schedule. Less clear was whether — with an eye on the outcome — he should.

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Sturgeon told quit the ‘grandstanding!’ Hunt slaps down whingeing SNP chief over Indyref2

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JEREMY HUNT has told Nicola Sturgeon to quit the “grandstanding” over calls for a second Scottish independence referendum as a war of words between the Foreign Secretary and Scotland’s First Minister erupts.

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DNC names 20 candidates who will appear on stage for first Democratic debate

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The Democratic National Committee on Thursday named the 20 presidential candidates who qualified to appear on stage later this month in the first primary debate of the 2020 campaign.

They are:

  1. Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado
  2. Former Vice President Joe Biden*
  3. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey*
  4. South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg*
  5. Former Housing Secretary Julián Castro*
  6. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio
  7. Former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland
  8. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii*
  9. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York*
  10. Sen. Kamala Harris of California*
  11. Former Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado
  12. Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington*
  13. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota*
  14. Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas*
  15. Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio
  16. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont*
  17. Rep. Eric Swalwell of California
  18. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts*
  19. Author Marianne Williamson*
  20. Entrepreneur Andrew Yang*

The DNC, which is sanctioning the debate, set two ways for candidates to qualify — fundraising and polling. To make the stage, candidates needed to have either at least 1 percent support in three qualifying polls, or provide evidence of at least 65,000 unique donors, with a minimum of 200 different donors in at least 20 states.

The candidates marked with an asterisk qualified through both polling and grassroots fundraising thresholds, the DNC said. The others qualified through polling only.

Those who did not meet the threshold for the first debate include: Montana Gov. Steve Bullock; former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel; Miramar, Florida Mayor Wayne Messam; and Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts.

Bullock told NBC News’ Chuck Todd Thursday in an interview on “Meet the Press Daily” that he was “disappointed” with the DNC’s decision but declined to say if he would challenge it.

“I certainly knew getting in at the time I did would give me fewer opportunities to be on shows with youand others, but I had a job to do,” said Bullock, who announced his bid in mid-May. “And if it ultimately ever came down to choosing between getting Medicaid reauthorized, getting 100,000 Montanans health care versus getting in earlier just to try to bump up on yet another poll, I would make that same choice time and time again.”

He added that he is an “important voice” in the field, since Montana voted overwhelmingly for President Donald Trump in 2016, and noted that there will be more opportunities to introduce himself to voters before the first primary next year, including future debates.

“I am the only one in the field that won in a Trump state and we need to win back some of the places we’ve lost,” he said.

The two-night debate, hosted by NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo, will take place on June 26 and 27 at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Miami. The event will air live across all three networks from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m ET both nights.

Ten candidates at a time will appear on stage, but the lineup for each night has not been determined, nor has where the candidates will stand. Both nights will have the same format, NBC News previously announced. It is the first of 12 primary debates the DNC has planned.

Lester Holt, Savannah Guthrie, Chuck Todd, Rachel Maddow and José Diaz-Balart will moderate the debate, NBC announced Tuesday.

The debate will also stream online free on NBC News’ digital platforms, including NBCNews.com, MSNBC.com, the NBC News Mobile App and OTT apps, in addition to Telemundo’s digital platforms.

Dartunorro Clark contributed.

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Tom Watson: Could Tom Watson challenge Jeremy Corbyn for Labour leadership?

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TOM WATSON is the deputy Labour leader and is calling for a fresh referendum, but could he challenge Jeremy Corbyn for Labour leadership?

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