Susan Collins Says She Believes Blasey Ford Was Assaulted—But Not by Kavanaugh

The Maine senator echoes a popular conservative talking point.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine)Alex Edelman/Zuma

Appearing on CNN this morning Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said that she believes that Christine Blasey Ford was sexually assaulted—just not by Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. 

“I do not believe that Brett Kavanaugh was her assailant. I do believe that she was assaulted. I don’t know by whom, and I’m not certain when, but I do not believe he was the assailant,” Collins told Dana Bash on State of the Union. The Maine senator came on the program to explain why she had voted to confirm Kavanaugh in spite of Ford’s allegation that he had sexually assaulted her when they he was a teenager.

The senator said that while she found Ford’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee “compelling,” she does not think Ford accurately recalls what happened to her. “I found Dr. Ford’s testimony to be heart-wrenching, painful, compelling, and I believe that she believes what she testified to. But we also had a case where Judge Kavanaugh came forward and said, ‘I’m 100 percent certain that this did not happen,’ so here you have two people who are each 100 percent certain of what they’re saying under pain of perjury.” 

The notion that Ford misremembers what exactly happened to her 37 years ago—including who attacked her and where and when it occurred—has become a popular talking point among Kavanaugh’s conservative backers. The theory took hold following a series of tweets (since deleted) by Ed Whelan, the president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, in which he spun out a scenario in which Ford was assaulted by a boy who resembled Kavanaugh. In response, Ford said, “There is zero chance that I would confuse them.”       

Defending herself against accusations that she had “betrayed women” by voting for Kavanaugh, Collins told CNN, “I have never disregarded, disrespected, or mocked survivors. That is just plain untrue.” She said that she had spoken with many survivors, including her own friends. “I have learned how pervasive this terrible problem is in our society. And clearly we need to step up and do something about it. And every survivor deserves to be heard and respected.” But not necessarily believed.