One of the Republican senators on the fence about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is ready to listen to his accusers.
In an interview with The New York Times on Monday, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said that the vote on Kavanaugh is no longer about whether he is qualified to serve. Rather, she said, it's about "whether or not a woman who has been a victim at some point in her life is to be believed." Christine Ford has accused Kavanaugh of forcibly groping her at a party when they were both in high school, while Deborah Ramirez alleges Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a drunken dorm party while they were both students at Yale University. Kavanaugh has denied both allegations, and he and Ford will testify before the Senate on Thursday regarding her accusation.
Murkowski told the Times that Ford's allegation disturbed her and that she's prepared to hear her out. "We need to be able to listen," she said. The senator also explained that she has been working over the past week to ensure that Ford's testimony didn't fall through because of her colleagues' "arbitrary timeline"; many Republicans insisted Ford had to testify Monday if at all. In a separate interview, Murkowski told CNN that Ramirez should come forward and "take the next step" like Ford so that her allegation can also be considered. At the same time, Murkowski made clear she will also listen to what Kavanaugh has to say.
Kavanaugh needs 50 votes in order to be confirmed, and there are 51 Republicans in the Senate. If Murkowski votes no, only one other Republican would have to break rank for Kavanaugh's nomination to go up in flames. There are reportedly up to seven Republicans undecided on the nominee — including Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who told reporters Tuesday that "the hearing Thursday is an important one." Brendan Morrow