Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) announced on Friday, “I don’t believe that these claims need to be proved beyond reasonable doubt” and “I do not believe these charges can fairly prevent Kavanaugh from the court,” referring to the testimony Christine Blasey Ford gave against Brett Kavanaugh last week.
Collins said Kavanaugh was clearly qualified to serve.
Prior to announcing her support for the Supreme Court nominee accused of sexual assault, she had called President Trump’s mocking of Ford, “just plain wrong,” and that she was “appalled” by the tweet questioning how bad the attack was, and why she or her loving parents didn’t file charges immediately.
In her statement Friday afternoon, Collins expressed concern that people believe the Senate is condoning sexual assault.
She said, “The Me Too movement is real. It matters, it is needed and it is long overdue. I will do all that I can to ensure that daughters and granddaughters never experience [sexual assault]. Ford never sought the spotlight and said that someone leaked the letter against her wishes.
“To that leaker who I hope is listening now what you did was unconscionable. You have taken a survivor who trusted you to protect her, you have sacrificed her well-being to win a political crusade you think you are fighting. Your callous act has turned this into a dysfunctional circus.”
She criticized special interest groups attack on Kavanaugh, and said the confirmation process had gone to the “gutter.”
Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona, a Republican, and Joe Machin of West Virginia, a Democrat voted to advance the nomination along with Collins this morning, resulting in a vote of 51-49.
Machin, who is running for re-election in a state Trump won in 2016 by an overwhelming majority, said after Collins spoke this afternoon, that while he had reservations, he found Kavanaugh “to be a qualified jurist who will follow the Constitution and determine cases based on the legal findings before him.”
Flake, who after anguish over being confronted by survivors in an elevator during the Senate hearings made a deal with Senator Christopher Coons to bring about the FBI Investigation, said earlier this morning that he will vote “Yes unless something big were to change.”
Before this morning’s vote to advance, Mitch McConnell said to his colleagues: “We know the Senate is better than this, we know the nation deserves better than this. Let’s seize the golden opportunity before us today, confirm a Supreme Court justice who will make us proud.”
“Very proud of the U.S. Senate for voting “YES” to advance the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh!” Trump tweeted after the morning vote.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who opposed her party and voted against advancing the nomination and claims to continue to say “No” on Saturday, said of what she called the most difficult decision she’s ever had to make, “I believe we are dealing with issues that are bigger than a nominee.” She also said to reporters, “He’s not the right man for the court at this time.”