Sen. Susan Collins is “appalled” by President Donald Trump’s tweet attacking the woman who accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, she told reporters in her home state Maine on Friday.
The moderate Republican senator, who is a key swing vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination, said that the president downplayed how few crimes of sexual assault are reported when he lashed out at Kavanaugh’s accuser, Christine Blasey Ford. In a series of tweets on Friday, Trump said that “if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed” and asked “Why didn’t someone call the FBI 36 years ago?”
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“I was appalled by the president’s tweet,” Collins said, according to audio provided by her office. “I thought that the president’s tweet was completely inappropriate and wrong.”
Still, the Maine senator sought more to distance herself from Trump than opine on whether she believed Ford’s account on Kavanaugh. She said she needed to see them both in front of her next week under oath to make that sort of judgment. Republicans working to confirm Kavanaugh said on Friday that they believe Collins could certainly still vote for his nomination if she believes his denials.
“We know that allegations of sexual assault. I’m not saying that’s what happened in this case — but we know that allegations of sexual assault are one of the most unreported crimes that exist,” Collins said.
Trump’s Friday tweets have rattled Republicans after the president was reluctant to target Ford in previous days. They are hoping he goes back to being quiet on Twitter while the Senate deals with the sensitive work of setting up a hearing with both Ford and Kavanaugh.
“Frankly, I’ve felt like the way he handled himself in the earlier part of the week is the way he should continue to do it, nothing good’s going to come from him being in the mix on this sort of the issue,” said a Republican senator on Friday afternoon. “Clearly, his behavior in the early part of the week was not his style.”