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US president Donald Trump celebrates Brett Kavanaugh's 'tremendous victory'

President Donald Trump, on board Air Force One, gestures while watching a live television broadcast of the senate confirmation vote of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Picture by Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
Jill Colvin, Associated Press

US president Donald Trump has celebrated the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the highest court in the US.

At a rally in Kansas, Mr Trump condemned Democrats for what he called a "shameless campaign of political and personal destruction" against his nominee for the US supreme court.

To the cheers of supporters at the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka, Mr Trump declared it a "historic night" not long after he signed the paperwork to make Mr Kavanaugh's status official.

He said: "I stand before you today on the heels of a tremendous victory for our nation."

Mr Trump thanked Republican senators for refusing to back down "in the face of the Democrats' shameless campaign of political and personal destruction".

Mr Kavanaugh was sworn in as a justice on Saturday evening in Washington after an extraordinarily fraught nomination that sparked angry protests, knife-edge votes and a national reckoning about sexual assault allegations and who should be believed.

He staunchly denied the allegations, but nearly all Democrats in the US senate voted against his confirmation.

The final vote took place on Saturday afternoon as Mr Trump was flying to Kansas aboard Air Force One.

He invited travelling reporters to his private office to watch the climactic roll call, which was interrupted several times by protesters in the senate galleries before Capitol police removed them.

When the vote was confirmed, Mr Trump delivered a double thumbs-up from his desk while several aides applauded.

"Very, very good," he said.

"Very happy about it. Great decision. I very much appreciate those 50 great votes and I think he's (Mr Kavanaugh) going to go down as a totally brilliant supreme court justice for many years."

Mr Trump had insisted Mr Kavanagh would not be tainted by the sexual assault allegations from Christine Blasey Ford and others that nearly derailed his nomination. Mr Trump said he was "100%" certain Mr Kavanaugh was innocent.

"I have no doubt," Mr Trump said, telling reporters that he had chosen Mr Kavanaugh in part because "there's nobody with a squeaky-clean past like Brett Kavanaugh".

He said the FBI had carried out seven background investigations and argued that, had there been an issue, it would have surfaced sooner.

"If there was even a scintilla of something wrong – he was a very big judge for many years on what they call the second highest court – that would have come out loud and clear," he said.

Throughout the day, Mr Trump also kept his focus on the opposition, saying Mr Kavanaugh had withstood a "horrible, horrible attack" that "nobody should have to go through".

He told supporters in Topeka that "radical Democrats" have become "an angry, left-wing mob" and "too dangerous and too extreme to govern".

He urged Kansas voters to send Republicans to US congress.

"You don't hand matches to an arsonist and you don't give power to an angry left-wing mob. And that's what they've become," he said.

Mr Kavanaugh's nomination sparked protests across the Capitol. When the vote was over, hundreds of protesters massed on the steps of the supreme court, chanting: "We believe survivors."

Asked by reporters aboard Air Force One what message he had for women across the country who feel the nomination sends a message that their allegations of sexual assault are not believed, Mr Trump disagreed with the premise, saying women "were outraged at what happened to Brett Kavanaugh" and "were in many ways stronger than the men in his favour".

He added: "We have a lot of women that are extremely happy – a tremendous number – because they're thinking of their sons, they're thinking of their husbands and their brothers and their uncles and others, and women are, I think, extremely happy."

Pointing to television footage of protesters outside the Capitol, he said their numbers paled in comparison to the thousands of supporters awaiting him in Kansas.

He tweeted: "The crowd in front of the US Supreme Court is tiny, looks like about 200 people (& most are onlookers) – that wouldn't even fill the first couple of rows of our Kansas Rally, or any of our Rallies for that matter!"

Mr Trump also revealed that he believed a widely criticised rally speech in which he mocked Ms Ford's senate testimony had been a turning point for the nomination, changing the momentum in his favour.

"I think that the Mississippi speech had great impact," he said, calling it "a very important thing".

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