Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination was plunged into chaos after a woman accusing him of sexual assault spoke publicly for the first time about the allegation on Sunday, in an interview with the Washington Post.
The fallout from the decades-old allegation is putting pressure on Senate Republicans, who must decide if they want to rush forward with the nomination despite the assault charges.
GOP Senators Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine) are two potential swing votes and they have yet to say how they will vote or if they want to delay the vote in the wake of the allegations.
The two senators, who are now under great pressure to oppose Kavanaugh, spoke up on Sunday night with their thoughts about Kavanaugh’s nomination.
Murkowski said the Judiciary Committee “might” need to consider delaying a vote on Kavanaugh. As a moderate Republican she is a potential “no” vote.
“Well, I think that might be something they might have to consider, at least having that discussion,” Murkowski told CNN late Sunday night asked if the Judiciary Committee should delay a vote.
“This is not something that came up during the hearings. The hearings are now over, and if there is real substance to this, it demands a response. That may be something the committee needs to look into,” Murkowski said.
Collins criticized Senate Democrats for how they handled the sexual assault allegation against Kavanaugh. She questioned why Democrats had waited for weeks to come forward with the allegation, arguing it wasn’t “fair” to either Kavanaugh or his accuser, professor Christine Blasey Ford.
“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,” Collins told The New York Times.
Collins asked if Democrats believed Ford, “why didn’t they surface this information earlier,” and if they didn’t believe Ford, “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,” Collins said.
Neither Murkowski nor Collins have announced a decision on Kavanaugh. What they decide to do will help determine when, and if, he gets confirmed. Democrats would need to win over two Republican senators if they want to block Kavanaugh’s nomination.
Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans defended Kavanaugh on Sunday, saying he had undergone multiple FBI background checks, and questioned the timing of the allegations.
A spokesman for Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), released a lengthy statement saying it was “disturbing” that the “uncorroborated allegations from more than 35 years ago, during high school, would surface on the eve of the committee vote.”
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), a member of the Judiciary Committee, said on Sunday he believes the panel shouldn’t vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination until they’ve had time to dig into the allegation.
“For me, we can’t vote until we hear more,” Flake said. If the committee tried to move forward on Thursday and Flake joined all Democrats in voting “no,” that would leave the panel in a tie.
But even as Republican leadership is indicating they want to move forward with Kavanaugh, his nomination remains short of the 50 votes needed to be confirmed.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is currently scheduled to vote on Brett Kavanaugh‘s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court at 1:45 p.m. on Thursday.
What happens between now and then may decide the ideological makeup of the Court for decades.