The Slatest

Collins Thought Kavanaugh Would Be Forced to Withdraw but “Forceful Denial” Saved Him

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) speaks to reporters at the U.S. Capitol on October 5, 2018 in Washington, D.C.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) speaks to reporters at the U.S. Capitol on October 5, 2018 in Washington, D.C.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Sen. Susan Collins thought at one point that Brett Kavanaugh would end up having to withdraw from being considered for a seat in the highest court of the land because of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s “compelling and painful testimony.” But ultimately Collins said she changed her mind in large part thanks to his “forceful denial” and the way he pushed back against the allegations.

“I was certainly undecided, and, after hearing Christine Ford’s very compelling and painful testimony, I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, he perhaps needs to withdraw,’” Collins told CNN.
“But then when he came back with such a forceful denial, and the anger and anguish that he showed, and then the lack of corroboration, led me back to the fundamental issues that are fundamental to our legal system, a presumption of innocence and fairness.” Collins also said that while she believes Ford “was assaulted,” she doesn’t believe Kavanaugh “was the assailant.”

Collins also dismissed the possibility of a challenge from Susan Rice, saying “she doesn’t live in the state of Maine. Everybody knows that.” The senator also characterized it as ironic that “back in 2009, when she was nominated to be ambassador of the U.N., she came to me, even though I did not know her back then at all, and pleaded with me to introduce her before the committee, which I was happy to do because her family had links to the state of Maine.” Rice on Sunday retweeted a message that noted Collins had at one point praised Rice and her ties to Maine. “Dr. Rice’s ties to our great state are the foundation of her character,” Collins wrote in a newsletter. “Her grandparents emigrated from Jamaica to Portland one hundred years ago.” Collins had also praised her “brilliance and nuanced insights.”

Some of Collins’ Democratic colleagues were quick to criticize the senator from Maine for her rationale in choosing to support Kavanaugh. Sen. Mazie Hirono, a Democrat from Hawaii, told CNN that the explanation of why she chose to vote for Kavanaugh was “insulting” toward Ford. “She said that she thinks that Dr. Ford thinks that she was assaulted, which is even more insulting than saying that she gave a very credible account,” Hirono said.