On Friday afternoon two undecided senators, Maine Republican Susan Collins and West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin, announced they would vote tomorrow to confirm Kavanaugh, ending the last-minute drama about whether the Republicans had the votes. Barring an unprecedented change of mind, President Donald Trump’s nominee will go through on a 51-49 vote.
Collins explained her vote in a speech on the Senate floor that echoed many of the arguments Kavanaugh himself made in last week’s contentious hearings. Just as Kavanaugh delivered highly partisan remarks that blamed Democrats and “millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups” as the source of opposition to him, Collins spoke out against “dark money” groups targeting the jurist.
“Interest groups have also spent an unprecedented amount of dark money opposing this nomination,” Collins complained. “One can only hope that the Kavanaugh nomination is where the process has finally hit rock bottom.”
But as CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski noted, Kavanaugh himself was also supported by dark money groups, including the Judicial Crisis Network, which spent $17 million to support Trump’s previous nominee, Neil Gorsuch:
Collins also argued that Kavanaugh was a moderate, Republican-nominated jurist in the tradition of Sandra Day O’Connor, Anthony M. Kennedy, and David H.Souter. As such, she said, he was likely to defend reproductive freedom as enshrined in Roe v. Wade. Many analysts found this argument far-fetched:
On the subject of the sexual assault accusations against Kavanaugh, Collins revealed herself to be a proponent of the mistaken identity theory that gained traction among some conservatives: that Christine Blasey Ford had been assaulted, but that she misidentified Kavanaugh as the attacker.
After Collins’s speech, Manchin explained to the press why he would vote for Kavanaugh—accompanied by chants of “shame” in the background.