HE SAID

Susan Collins says she believes Blasey Ford was assaulted—but not by Kavanaugh

US senator Susan Collins says she doesn’t exactly not believe Christine Blasey Ford.
US senator Susan Collins says she doesn’t exactly not believe Christine Blasey Ford.
Image: Reuters/Yuri Gripas
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Before the vote on whether to send Brett Kavanaugh to the US supreme Court happened, it was clear it would split along party lines. Still, countless American women hoped the senate’s few moderate female Republicans would believe Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s claim that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her in high school, and reject him.

That turned out to be a well-founded hope in the case of Alaska senator Lisa Murkowski, who declined to vote in favor of Kavanaugh’s confirmatio—but a pipe dream when it came to Maine’s Susan Collins, who cast the deciding vote in his favor.

Collins explained her position on CNN’s “State of the Union” with Dana Bash this morning. “I do not believe that Brett Kavanaugh was her assailant,” she said. “I do believe that she was assaulted. I don’t know by whom, and I’m not certain when, but I do not believe that he was the assailant.”

Collins and other Republicans have sought to show that they believe Ford while also somehow maintaining their support for Kavanaugh. But as Bash pointed out to Collins, you can’t have it both ways.

“But if she said that under oath and he said that under oath, you’ve made a decision that he said [sic] is more valid than what she said” Bash continues.

Collins replies that there was no corroborating evidence that Kavanaugh assaulted Ford, and therefore felt it was not likely that Kavanaugh was involved. ”In this country, we have a presumption of innocence,” she said. But that standard of evidence only applies to criminal trials—not confirmation hearings.

The Washington Post (paywall) reported that experts in traumatic memories have scoffed at the theory that Ford could be mistaking Kavanaugh for someone else.

“The person lying on top of you—who she’d previously met—you’re not going to forget that,” Richard Huganir, a neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, told the Post. “There’s a total consensus in the field of memory … If anything, fear and trauma enhances the encoding of the memory at a molecular level.”

Meanwhile, Collins’ pivotal vote has prompted furious opponents to raise more than $3 million for whoever challenges her in 2020.