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Police stood guard at the doors.

But Republican operatives say internal polling now shows that Kavanaugh's acrimonious confirmation has given the party a much-needed boost, with its voters viewing Democrats as over-zealous partisans following the public testimony by Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford - who accused the judge of trying to rape her while they were both in school.

Collins said the lack of evidence in sexual assault claims lodged against the judge was a big factor in her decision to support Kavanaugh's nomination.

Hirono later suggested that the presumption of innocence should not apply to Kavanaugh because "this is not a court of law" and said that the FBI's investigation was a "sham".

"I'm very focused on the here and now, which is that all these angry women, mainly, out there who saw what was going on and how the Senate was not able to deal with the entire issue of sexual assault", she said.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat from North Dakota seeking re-election in November who voted against Kavanaugh, said in an interview for "60 Minutes" that she had no doubt supporting the nominee would have been "politically expedient", according to a transcript provided by CBS.

Democrats have always faced a hard Senate map - six of the competitive seats that they hold are in states Trump won, and five of those states he carried by at least 19 points - but their path now is more treacherous. He flashed two thumbs up when the final vote was declared and aides on board applauded.

It was the closest roll call to confirm a justice since 1881, when Stanley Matthews was approved by 24-23, according to Senate records.

Collins told Bash that while she found Ford's testimony "heart-wrenching", the fact that both Ford and Kavanaugh said they were "100 percent certain" of their statements meant that she had to look to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for additional corroborating evidence.

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Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said he had never been so disturbed than by the events of recent weeks.

The confirmation means Mr Trump has succeeded in having his two picks seated on the court - tilting it decidedly to the right in a major coup for the Republican leader less than halfway through his term. "These things always blow over", he told a news conference.

"Kavanaugh's confirmation will leave a lot of outraged and energized women in its wake", said Geoff Garin, a Democratic pollster. "Now, I see that celebrities on Instagram are screenshotting it and my phone is just blowing up".

A townhouse near the Washington residence of Republican Senator Susan Collins, whose backing for Kavanaugh helped get him over the line on Saturday, flew the flag of her home state ME upside down in protest.

The accusations against Kavanaugh energized the #MeToo social media movement that emerged after high-profile accusations of sexual assault and harassment by men in politics, the media and the entertainment industry.

"I have enough people on my back wanting us to impeach the president", Pelosi said, according to The Times.

Disputes involving abortion, immigration, gay rights, voting rights and transgender troops all could be heading towards the nine justices soon and Kavanaugh is widely expected to cast conservative votes in all of them.

McConnell told Reuters that the political brawl over Kavanaugh will help Republicans at the ballot box. "That's been the history", McConnell said. "It's been a seminal event leading into the fall election".

Protesters also disrupted the vote itself in the US Senate multiple times before being dragged.