Collins announced her “yes” vote, giving Kavanaugh the 50th vote he needed to seal the deal, in the very last sentence of a 45-minute address on the floor of the Senate. But Collins showed her cards at the outset, eviscerating Democratic “dark money” groups who spent money opposing Kavanaugh’s nomination, while not mentioning their conservative counterparts who had done same.
The momentous announcement was widely carried across the TV landscape. Collins made sure of that, announcing even before this morning’s procedural vote that, at 3 PM ET, she would make the big reveal on her plans for tomorrow’s confirmation vote. That gave NBC News, for instance, plenty of time to put together plans for one of its Special Reports and carry her speech in its entirety. CBS News, meanwhile, covered her long address in its entirely on CBSN, while ABC carried it on its 24/7 digital network ABC News Live.
Cable news networks were, of course, glued to Collins from start to finish.
Moments after Collins’ reveal, Dem. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia tweeted he would break from party ranks and vote to seat Kavanaugh on the court.
“Today, we have come to the conclusion of a confirmation process that has become so dysfunctional it looks more like a caricature of a gutter-level political campaign than a solemn occasion,” Collins blasted, noting the number of senators who joined the race to oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination but got beaten to the punch “by one of our colleagues who announced the opposition before the identity was even known.”
She then walked viewers through her meetings and conversations with Kavanaugh, and most particularly about Trump’s vow to appoint only Supreme Court justices who will promise to overturn Roe v Wade.
Justice Department Says Donald Trump's Tax Returns Must Be Released To Congressional Committee
Collins insisted Kavanaugh has assured her precedent is “not merely a practice and tradition” but rooted in the Constitution.
Watch on Deadline
Kavanaugh has received rave reviews for his track “including his judicial temperament,” she argued, not mentioning his wild partisan Senate Judiciary Committee outburst last Thursday, that even he felt the need to try to clean up in an op-ed published by Wall Street Journal.
As to the allegations of Christine Blasey Ford, who claims Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in high school, Collins said she “listened carefully” to Ford’s testimony, finding her “sincere, painful and compelling” and believes Ford to be a survivor of sexual assault.
But, she said, none of the four witnesses she named could corroborate any of the events of that evening and that her standard failed to meet even a “more likely than not” threshold. “Therefore, I do not believe these charges can fairly prevent Kavanaugh from serving on the court.”
Rejecting the claim made by some Republicans that Feinstein leaked the confidential letter she had received from Ford, Collins guessed the culprit would not be discovered and blasted that person for sacrificing Ford’s well-being “in a misguided attempt to win whatever political crusade you think you are fighting.”
Adding it is her “fervent hope that Brett Kavanaugh will work to lessen the divisions of the Supreme Court so we have far fewer 5/4 decisions” and restore “public confidence in our highest court” – without presenting any evidence he could or would – Collins said, “I will vote to confirm judge Kavanaugh.”
Collins had signaled it was game over on Thursday after seeing the FBI’s report on its Brett Kavanaugh probe in which the bureau did not actually speak to Kavanaugh, nor to his accuser, Ford. Even so, Collins told reporters the FBI report “appears very thorough.”
Collins, was one of a few holdouts who held the keys to the kingdom for Kavanaugh, as the senate considered whether to give the judge accused of lying under oath during his confirmation process, and of sexually assaulting Ford in high school, a lifetime appointment to the country’s top court.
Heading in to this afternoon’s announcement, Collins was being reminded on social media that a crowdsourcing site already had collected $2 million toward funding her future political opponent if she votes YES to confirm Kavanaugh.
“If you fail to stand up for the people of Maine and for Americans across the country, every dollar donated to this campaign will go to your eventual Democratic opponent in 2020. We will get you out of office,” the Crowdpac post put her on notice.
At times, my testimony—both in my opening statement and in response to questions—reflected my overwhelming frustration at being wrongly accused, without corroboration, of horrible conduct completely contrary to my record and character. My statement and answers also reflected my deep distress at the unfairness of how this allegation has been handled.
I was very emotional last Thursday, more so than I have ever been. I might have been too emotional at times. I know that my tone was sharp, and I said a few things I should not have said. I hope everyone can understand that I was there as a son, husband and dad. I testified with five people foremost in my mind: my mom, my dad, my wife, and most of all my daughters.
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.