After hours of emotionally fraught testimony from Christine Blasey Ford and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, reactions from Maine’s congressional delegation varied.
The spotlight shines brightly on Republican Sen. Susan Collins, one of two or three GOP holdouts who could sink Kavanaugh’s nomination in a Senate floor vote that is now expected to happen Saturday. Republicans hold a 51-49 advantage in the Senate, meaning that two GOP members would have to break ranks with their caucus to join all Senate Democrats — as well as independents Angus King of Maine and Bernie Sanders of Vermont — to scuttle President Donald Trump’s second nomination to the high court.
But Collins remained tight-lipped Thursday evening. When the hearing concluded, Collins declined to say how the nearly 10 hours of testimony shaped her perspective and opted not respond to repeated requests for comment. Media reports from Washington indicated that she met privately Thursday evening with three other senators considered to be swing votes — Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski, Arizona Republican Jeff Flake and West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin.
Collins has publicly addressed the troubling aspects of Ford’s story, which alleges Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers. For weeks, Collins has painstakingly avoided saying whether she will vote to confirm Kavanaugh to the country’s highest court, though she has urged the committee not to rush the process.
A moderate who publicly supports abortion rights, Collins has faced intense pressure from both camps, as well as from advocacy groups in Maine and the nation’s capital. CNN reported Wednesday that Collins appeared unnerved after learning of a third allegation against Trump’s nominee.
As Collins met with other senators and processed events from Thursday’s Judiciary Committee hearing, other members of Maine’s congressional delegation weighed in.
King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, plans to vote against Kavanaugh. He said Thursday on Twitter that the vote was “too important to rush. On something this important, I’d rather get it right than get it fast.”
The Senate shouldn’t vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination “without a full investigation of her allegations. It’s still not too late,” King said. “There is no deadline to this process.”
Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat who represents the more liberal 1st District, concurred. Earlier on Thursday, she called for a delay of the Senate vote in a letter co-signed with 65 members of the House. It demands the committee “postpone any proceedings on Brett Kavanaugh’s lifetime SCOTUS appointment until a thorough FBI investigation into the multiple allegations of sexual assault and misconduct has been completed,” Pingree wrote on Twitter.
Republican 2nd District U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin was less committal about Kavanaugh’s confirmation. He said in a statement Thursday evening that it was “unfortunate that hearings of this importance have become so politicized.”
“Sexual harassment allegations should always be taken seriously,” Poliquin said. “I trust the Senate will take today’s testimony from the witnesses into account and importantly the written testimony from those said to be present.”
Barring late changes, the Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation Friday, and a procedural vote on the Senate floor is tentatively scheduled for Saturday. That could set up a final, deciding vote on Kavanaugh’s fate for early next week.
Follow the Bangor Daily News on Facebook for the latest Maine news.