My, but she’s right about this. Susan Collins told the New York Times last night that she essentially agrees with Jeff Flake and other Republicans that the Judiciary Committee needs to interview Christine Blasey Ford about her allegations against Brett Kavanaugh. However, Collins puts all credibility issues over this allegation squarely into the laps of Democrats, who hid this until the most propitious political moment:
The decision about any delay in the vote could rest on the opinions of two Republican women: Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine. Both are publicly undecided about Judge Kavanaugh.
Ms. Collins said in an interview on Sunday night that she considered the allegations serious and that Ms. Ford needed to be personally interviewed to get a fuller account. But Ms. Collins, who could conceivably decide the outcome in the narrowly divided Senate, said Democrats had done a disservice to both Ms. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh with their handling of the accusations.
“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.”
The subtext of this is Democrats’ necessity of converting Collins to a nay in order to succeed in blocking Kavanaugh’s confirmation. That seemed doomed anyway, but Collins hadn’t explicitly endorsed Kavanaugh yet either. The leak of this allegation — after Ford had decided not to press it — took clear aim at Collins and Lisa Murkowski for the floor vote on final confirmation, much more than Thursday’s vote in committee.
Democrats had better hope that Ford sticks the landing when she testifies to the committee, and that she has more than what we’ve seen so far. Collins seems nine-tenths of the way to chalking this up as a political hit job by her colleagues across the aisle, which might well inform her final decision on whether to reward those tactics. If Ford can’t provide even basic facts about the alleged assault, including when and where it took place and who else might have been witnesses to at least her presence at that time, this is going to become anticlimactic even under mild cross-examination.
If so, that will likely be enough to harden Collins and Murkowski in their support for Kavanaugh — or at least their desire not to create new incentives for last-minute character assassination attempts. Perhaps that will force an end to such tactics, or at least some discussion over the ethics of airing unsubstantiated allegations of conduct as minors about people who have long records of public service as adults.
Update: Collins wants fair play all around, and in the appropriate venue:
Professor Ford and Judge Kavanaugh should both testify under oath before the Judiciary Committee.
— Sen. Susan Collins (@SenatorCollins) September 17, 2018
Kavanaugh already volunteered to testify under oath. So far, Ford’s attorney says she will, but hasn’t been invited yet. This should be done ASAP, as reputations all around are at stake.
As for the questioning, this is a wise suggestion from my friend Hugh Hewitt:
+1. Perhaps former Senator Kelly Ayottem former New Hampshire AG and well respected by both sides. https://t.co/ar5R46uwds
— Hugh Hewitt (@hughhewitt) September 17, 2018
Is Lisa Bloom available? I kid, I kid …