The lone remaining Republican swing vote within the battle over Supreme Courtroom nominee Brett Kavanaugh introduced her assist for the decide on Friday, saying she believed certainly one of his accusers however that the allegations of sexual assault towards him didn’t meet the “more-likely-than-not” threshold she required to sink his affirmation.
In doing so, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, appeared to discuss with a idea first broached by a Washington Publish columnist and later promoted by conservative pundits and Kavanaugh himself: Maybe the accusations towards the decide have been a case of mistaken identification.
In a fastidiously choreographed, almost hour-long tackle, Collins described the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford, who informed lawmakers final month that Kavanaugh assaulted her within the early 1980s, as “honest, painful and compelling.”
“I imagine that she is a survivor of a sexual assault, and that this trauma has upended her life,” Collins mentioned within the speech.
However Collins stopped wanting saying she believed Ford’s testimony completely. Ford informed lawmakers final month that she was “100 %” positive that Kavanaugh was the one who assaulted her.
Collins raised doubts about that a part of Ford’s testimony, noting that Kavanaugh “forcefully” denied the allegation, and that a variety of alleged witnesses couldn’t corroborate that the incident occurred.
“The details offered don’t imply that professor Ford was not sexually assaulted that night time or at another time,” Collins mentioned. “However they do lead me to conclude that the allegations fail to fulfill the more-likely-than-not commonplace.”
In his personal opening assertion to lawmakers final month, Kavanaugh additionally raised the potential of mistaken identification. He mentioned he was not “questioning that Dr. Ford might have been sexually assaulted by some particular person in some place at a while.” However, he mentioned, he by no means sexually assaulted anyone.
Lawmakers have been caught within the midst of the #MeToo motion, which has unfold a highlight on sexual abuse. The motion has additionally led to stress in circumstances the place the proof is unsure, as People weigh the motion’s emphasis on believing those that say they’re victims of sexual abuse towards the rights of the accused to a presumption of innocence.
Collins famous that the Senate affirmation course of was not a legal trial however mentioned that “sure elementary authorized rules about due course of, the presumption of innocence and equity do bear on my pondering.”
Whereas she blasted the affirmation course of as a “caricature of a gutter-level political marketing campaign,” she mentioned that if any good had come out of the method it’s that extra consideration could be paid to the issue of sexual violence.
“Each particular person, man or girl, who makes a cost of sexual assault deserves to be heard and handled with respect,” Collins mentioned. “The #MeToo motion is actual. It issues. It’s wanted and lengthy overdue.”
However Collins mentioned that the affirmation course of had raised questions on Ford’s account. As an example, she mentioned that it was nonetheless not clear who drove Ford to the occasion at which she claims Kavanaugh assaulted her. She additionally mentioned it was odd that none of her buddies known as her the subsequent day.
“Regardless that she left that small gathering of six or so folks abruptly, and with out saying goodbye, and distraught, none of them known as her the subsequent day or ever to ask why she left, is she okay,” Collins mentioned. “Not even her closest pal, Ms. Keyser.”
In saying her assist for Kavanaugh, Collins successfully ensured that he could be confirmed to the Supreme Courtroom. The ultimate affirmation vote is predicted to come back as early as Saturday.
Trump appointed Kavanaugh to interchange Justice Anthony Kennedy in July. Kennedy had lengthy served because the court docket’s swing vote, notably in civil rights circumstances. Kavanaugh’s affirmation to the court docket would solidify a conservative majority on the court docket for the foreseeable future.