WASHINGTON: A top Republican Senator said Thursday that the FBI found "no hint of misconduct" by Brett Kavanaugh that he sexually abused women three decades ago, signalling that US President Donald Trump's nominee may soon become a judge of the Supreme Court.
Last week Professor Christine Blasey Ford testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee that Kavanaugh, 53, and another man had assaulted her when they were teenagers in the 1980s.
After Ford's dramatic testimony, the Senate panel approved Judge Kavanaugh's nomination but asked for the FBI to conduct a further inquiry before the full Senate voted on his appointment to America's top court.
The FBI submitted the confidential report to the Senate committee and soon Senator Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the new FBI investigation into Kavanaugh found nothing to corroborate sexual assault allegations against him.
"This investigation found no hint of misconduct," Senator Grassley said in a statement.
"There's nothing in it that we didn't already know."
Grassley said it was time for a vote by the full Senate to allow Kavanaugh on the nation's highest court.
"I'll be voting to confirm Judge Kavanaugh," he said.
Kavanaugh has vehemently denied all allegations against him.
Republicans have accused Democrats of seeking to delay the confirmation of Kavanaugh in the hope that they will make gains in the mid-term elections in November and stop his appointment altogether.
President Trump took to Twitter on Thursday to say the FBI report vindicated his nominee and expressed optimism about Republican chances in the November midterm elections, where control of the House of Representatives and Senate could be at stake.
"The harsh and unfair treatment of Judge Brett Kavanaugh is having an incredible upward impact on voters," Trump said.
"The PEOPLE get it far better than the politicians.
"Most importantly, this great life cannot be ruined by mean & despicable Democrats and totally uncorroborated allegations," Trump said.
Democrats, meanwhile, criticised the FBI investigation as being too limited in scope.
The Senate Judicial Committee's top Democrat Dianne Feinstein said she not yet seen the full FBI report.
But from what she had seen, it appeared insufficient to dismiss concerns about judge Kavanaugh.
"It looks to be a product of an incomplete investigation that was limited perhaps by the White House, I don't know," she told reporters.
Feinstein added that "the most notable part of this report is what's not in it".
"We had many fears that this was a very limited process," said Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer.
"Those fears have been realised."
Republicans and Democrats are divided over the nomination.
A confirmation vote is expected to be held on Saturday.
His appointment would tilt the court in favour of conservatives.
The apex court's nine justices are appointed for life and have the final say on some of the most contentious issues in US public life, from abortion to gun control and voting laws.
Last week Professor Ford said Kavanaugh was drunk and had pinned her on to a bed, tried to remove her clothing and put his hand over her mouth when she screamed.
Another woman, Deborah Ramirez, has accused Kavanaugh of exposing himself to her during a drinking game when they were students at Yale University in the 1980s.