Sen. Susan Collins says she thought Kavanaugh would have to withdraw nomination after ‘forceful denial’ that ultimately won her over

Brett Kavanaugh’s passionate opening statement in his Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Sept. 27 just may have saved his seat on the Supreme Court.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) told CNN on Sunday that she was convinced that Kavanaugh would have to withdraw his nomination to the Supreme Court after watching the “compelling” testimony of the first and most notable woman to accuse him of sexual assault, Christine Blasey Ford. But Collins changed her mind when Kavanaugh’s turn came to testify.

Collins, whose “yes” vote ultimately sealed the deal, said that the judge’s “forceful denial” convinced her to vote to confirm him.

Collins reveals moment of uncertainty

Collins appeared on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, where she defended her decision to vote to confirm Kavanaugh.

“I was certainly undecided and after hearing Christine [Blasey] Ford’s very compelling and painful testimony I thought, ‘Oh, my goodness, he perhaps needs to withdraw,'” Collins said.

Collins added that she was torn between the two searing, emotional accounts, but in the end, she sided with Kavanaugh out of a commitment to principles of due process for the accused and a lack of corroborating evidence.

“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 of presumption of innocence and fairness,” she said.

The same passionate testimony that persuaded Collins was widely criticized on the left as a sign of bad temperament that they said should have disqualified Kavanaugh from the process. In his indignant monologue, Kavanaugh blasted the confirmation process as a “search and destroy” campaign motivated by a desire for “revenge” against president Donald Trump on behalf of the Clintons.

Backlash against Collins

Kavanaugh was confirmed as the 114th Supreme Court justice on Saturday afternoon with a narrow 50-48 vote and was sworn in on Saturday evening. Protesters stormed the halls of the Capitol as the dramatic nomination process came to an end following weeks of controversy that have deepened the partisan divide plaguing the U.S.

Collins revealed her decision to vote to confirm Kavanaugh during a speech on Friday in which she laid out a careful, lucid defense of the judge and described his confirmation process as low-point in the history of the high court. The senator said that principles of due process compelled her to side with Kavanaugh in the absence of evidence to meet a “more likely than not” standard.

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The news that Collins would vote “yes” locked in the vote for Kavanaugh, prompting backlash from Democrats and progressive groups who called Collins a traitor to women and promised to vote her out of office when she runs for re-election in 2020. Defending her record on women, Collins told CNN that every sexual assault victim deserves to be heard but that it would be unfair to disqualify Kavanaugh without solid proof.

“It is not fair to Brett Kavanaugh for this to be disqualifying in the absence of evidence. But that does not mean that I don’t believe that Dr. Ford was not a victim of sexual assault. I think she is a survivor,” Collins said. “I do not believe that Brett Kavanaugh was her assailant.”

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