A growing number of Republican legislators are calling for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation process to be delayed over allegations of sexual predation, which were made public last week.
On Sunday afternoon, the woman accusing Kavanaugh of attempted rape spoke publicly for the first time, telling the Washington Post Kavanaugh forced himself on her and covered her mouth to silence her screams at a house party several decades ago, when the two were teenagers.
“I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” the woman, Christine Blasey Ford, now 51, told the Post. “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.”
The interview with the paper came just days after details of a letter she sent to Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) office in late July became public. The letter, which Feinstein withheld from her colleagues, described the incident, and Feinstein ultimately referred the letter to the FBI.
In the wake of the report, a number of Republican senators have called for delaying Kavanaugh’s Judiciary Committee vote. All have issued similar statements previously in the wake of other high profile #MeToo allegations against elected officials or candidates for public office.
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ)
Flake, who sits on the Judiciary Committee, said in an interview with the Washington Post that Ford (who goes by the name “Blasey” professionally) “must be heard” before the committee votes. Republicans have a 11-10 majority on the committee, and Flake’s vote could, as the Post noted, halt Kavanaugh’s nomination.
“I’ve made it clear that I’m not comfortable moving ahead with the vote on Thursday if we have not heard her side of the story or explored this further,” he told the Post Sunday, though he would not say how he would vote. “For me, we can’t vote until we hear more.”
Last year, Flake opposed Judge Roy Moore’s Senate candidacy after a series of reports revealing Moore was a credibly accused child predator. In December, Flake wrote a check to Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL), then Moore’s Democratic rival, and countered Trump’s support for Moore.
Country over Party pic.twitter.com/JZMTaEYdxQ
— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) December 5, 2017
“I do think the president is wrong here. I think it will have negative impacts for the party in the long term,” he said at the time. Flake also said he didn’t believe the RNC, which rescinded its support for Moore and then reinstated its support later.
Flake, too, said former Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) did the right thing by resigning after a number of women accused him of sexual harassment.
“He’s a friend, and he did the right thing,” Flake told reporters in December.
Flake is retiring in January.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN)
Corker, who is also retiring in January, joined Flake Sunday, saying he believes Ford deserves to be heard before the committee votes. Corker is not a member of the Judiciary Committee.
“I think that would be best for all involved, including the nominee,” Corker told Politico. “If she does want to be heard, she should do so promptly.”
Corker, too, opposed Moore’s candidacy last year, calling the judge a “bridge too far” even before the allegations of sexual abuse. (Moore, notably, has said in the past homosexual conduct should be illegal and that Muslims should not be allowed to serve in Congress.)
Look, I'm sorry, but even before these reports surfaced, Roy Moore's nomination was a bridge too far.
— Senator Bob Corker (@SenBobCorker) November 11, 2017
Unlike Flake, Corker declined to weigh in about the allegations against Franken.
“I receive these kinds of questions every day about all kinds of things and I just — I don’t really have a lot — I don’t know enough . . . I just, again, I just don’t want to be weighing in on these things every day when I know nothing about them,” he told The Intercept.
When a reporter pointed out he had weighed in on Moore, Corker asked, “How did I weigh in on Roy Moore?”
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Asked by CNN Sunday night if she believed the committee should delay voting on Kavanaugh, Murkowski said she believed it was something they “might have to consider.”
“Well, I think that might be something they might have to consider, at least having that discussion,” she said. “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 is not a member of the Judiciary Committee, but she is considered a pivotal vote as one of the only pro-choice Republicans in the Senate.
Last year, Murkowski said she was “horrified” by the Moore allegations, adding, “If this is true he needs to step down immediately.” In 2010, Murkowski was reelected after a strong write-in campaign, and following the allegations, she met with then-Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL), who lost the primary to Moore, to discuss a possible write-in, which went nowhere.
We’re seeing a culture of harassment & assault being exposed on a daily basis. Whether you are in the media, politics, or anywhere else abuse of power is unacceptable & shouldn’t be tolerated at any place at any level. Sen. Franken must know that & that’s why he must step down.
— Sen. Lisa Murkowski (@lisamurkowski) December 6, 2017
She also called for Franken’s resignation last December, saying in a tweet, “Whether you are in the media, politics, or anywhere else, abuse of power is unacceptable & shouldn’t be tolerated at any place at any level. Sen. Franken must know that & that’s why he must step down.”
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO)
Blunt told the Kansas City Star Monday afternoon that he believes the vote should be delayed.
“These are serious allegations that need to be looked at closely by the committee before any other action is taken,” Blunt said, according to one Star reporter.
— Bryan Lowry (@BryanLowry3) September 17, 2018
Blunt is not a member of the Judiciary Committee, though he does serve as a member of the GOP leadership in the Senate, acting as the Vice Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference.
Blunt, though not as definitively as some of his colleagues, spoke out against Moore.
“The women have a more credible story than Judge Moore,” Blunt said in a statement from November. “Alabama voters should have a better choice and Judge Moore should have better answers to these charges.”
Just days later, however, Blunt was asked about the allegations against Moore and Franken by KMOV4, and he did not call for either to step aside.
“At the end of the day, Alabama voters and Minnesota voters are probably in the best position who they want to hire and who they want to continue to hire than the people in the Senate,” he said.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)
Late Monday afternoon, Collins told reporters at the Capitol she believes both Kavanaugh and Ford should testify under oath, though she did not explicitly call for a delay.
“I want to have both individuals come before the Senate Judiciary Committee and testify under oath,” she said. “It’s important that there be a very thorough interview and that we see both individuals respond to the allegations.”
.@SenatorCollins says she wants both Kavanaugh & Dr Ford to testify under oath and "respond to the allegations."
"There are an awful lot of questions, inconsistencies, gaps. And to be fair to both we need to know what happened."
Collins says she's not sure if she believes Ford pic.twitter.com/cfhpbSPBvs
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 17, 2018
Collins continued, saying there are an “awful lot of questions, inconsistencies, [and] gaps” in the allegation, though she did not clarify what she was referring to, adding, “That’s why, to be fair to both, we need to know what happened.”
Last year, Collins said she believed the allegations against Franken were “credible, disgusting and appalling and degrading to women.” Collins also said she believed the allegations against Moore were credible, but said she did not know if it was appropriate to expel him if he were elected.
“If the voters of the state, fully knowing all of these allegations, nevertheless choose to elect Roy Moore, is it appropriate for the Senate to expel him?” Collins asked. “I think that’s a really difficult question, and I don’t know the answer to that yet.”
Collins is, along with Murkowski, one of the only pro-choice Republicans in Congress and considered a pivotal vote in Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
This article will be updated as more statements become available.