Her view of Kavanaugh appeared to lean in his favor in August after her one-on-one meeting with the appellate judge. The moderate senator from Maine, who is pro-choice, told reporters that Kavanaugh assured that he viewed Roe v. Wade — the perennially controversial abortion ruling — as “settled law.”
But after Kavanaugh was accused of past sexual misconduct by multiple women in mid-September, Collins was circumspect. “I don’t know enough to make a judgment at this point,” she told reporters at the time.
And she criticized President Donald Trump after he mocked one of Kavanaugh’s accusers, Christine Blasey Ford, at a rally following her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Trump’s derisive imitation of the testimony was “just plain wrong,” Collins said.
Kavanaugh has categorically denied the allegations against him.
In her Senate speech Friday, Collins also devoted significant time to discussing the sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh, including an in-depth evaluation of the evidence and the witnesses who came forward to testify for and against the judge.
“Every person, man or woman, who makes a charge of sexual assault deserves to be heard and treated with respect,” she said. “The #MeToo movement is real. It matters. It is needed, and long overdue.”
She concluded, however, that the allegations failed to meet the proper standard of evidence, and “therefore I do not believe that these charges can fairly prevent Judge Kavanaugh from serving on the court.”
Collins was careful to frame her argument respectfully regarding Ford. But she rejected another accusation by Julie Swetnick, who alleged in a bombshell declaration that Kavanaugh and others were involved in spiking girls’ drinks in the early 1980s to make it easier for them to be raped.
“That such an allegation can find its way into the Supreme Court confirmation process is a stark reminder about why the presumption of innocence is so ingrained” in U.S. institutions, Collins said.
Swetnick’s lawyer, Michael Avenatti, excoriated Collins in a phone call with CNBC.
“I have no idea what she is talking about and evidently neither does she,” Avenatti said. “My client submitted a sworn declaration, we submitted a second written declaration from a corroborating witness, we had additionally five other witness to provide to the FBI, we repeatedly asked to meet with the FBI, to no avail. How the hell did Susan Collins make a credibility determination related to my client’s allegations when she never did any investigation whatsoever?”
Avenatti said he and his client are “exploring our options.”
contributed to this report.