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Collins: Kavanaugh And Accuser 'Should Both Testify Under Oath' Before Committee

Jose Luis Magana
Associated Press
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, meets with Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh in her office, before a private meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018.

Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins says U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and the woman who alleges that he sexually assaulted her in the early 1980s should both testify under oath before the Senate Judiciary Committee.Collins, who could be a decisive vote in Kavanaugh's lifetime confirmation to the Supreme Court, took to Twitter to express support for hearing from both Kavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford.

Collins' statement is in line with other Senate Republicans, as well as Kellyanne Conway, an advisor to President Donald Trump.

Conway said Monday that Ford should not be insulted and she should be heard.

Ford told the Washington Post Sunday that a drunken Kavanaugh pinned her on a bed, groped her and covered her mouth to keep her from screaming during a high school party in suburban Maryland.

Kavanaugh has denied the allegations and announced that he's willing to testify to them on Capitol Hill.

Ford's attorney also said her client is willing to testify.

Ford's allegations have roiled Washington, D.C. and threatened to derail Kavanaugh's initial confirmation vote by the Judiciary Committee scheduled for Thursday.

Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake told reporters over the weekend that the committee's vote should be delayed until Ford's allegations are vetted.

Maine independent U.S. Sen. Angus King told MSNBC Sunday that he also believed that the vote should be delayed. King said last week he would oppose Kavanaugh's confirmation, citing the judge's "overly rigid judicial philosophy” and a lack of transparency.

Later Monday, committee chair, Sen. Charles E. Grassley, an Iowa Republican, said Thursday's vote would be delayed and he would call both Ford and Kavanaugh to publicly testify next Monday.

Collins, who has faced withering pressure from progressive activist groups to oppose Kavanaugh's confirmation because of his perceived threat to a women's right to an abortion and his views about the expansive limits to presidential power, told the New York Times Sunday that Ford's allegations were serious.

She also told the Times that Democrats had mishandled the accusations and done a disservice to Ford and Kavanaugh.

“What is puzzling to me is the Democrats, by not bringing this out earlier, after having had this information for more than six weeks, have managed to cast a cloud of doubt on both the professor and the judge,” she said. “If they believed Professor Ford, why didn’t they surface this information earlier so that he could be questioned about it? And if they didn’t believe her and chose to withhold the information, why did they decide at the 11th hour to release it? It is really not fair to either of them the way it is was handled.”

Ford's accusations were originally detailed in a confidential letter sent to U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.

Feinstein, who said last week that she sent the letter to the FBI, has said that she did not mention the allegations during Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing because Ford feared reprisal if she came forward.

Debra Katz, Ford's attorney, told CNN on Monday that Feinstein's aides had asked several times last month if Ford had changed her mind.

Katz said her client's decision to tell her story to the Washington Post was forced because she had been outed by someone else.

“We do think that Feinstein did well by her, and we do think that people took this decision away from her, and that’s wrong,” Ms. Katz said. “If the #MeToo era teaches us anything, it’s that a person gets to choose when, where and how, and now this person is going to be injected into a life-altering blood bath.”