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Collins: ‘I will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh’

UPDATE: “I will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh,” Collins says

Republican Sen. Susan Collins was among the 51 “yes” votes Friday that advanced Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination to a full Senate vote later this weekend.

Hours later, the Maine senator, who is one of the handful of crucial swing votes in Kavanaugh’s confirmation battle, said she would vote the same way in the final floor vote.

“I will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh,” Collins said.

Collins spoke from the Senate floor today. Watch her remarks in the player above.

Collins spent a good portion of her speech from the Senate floor defending Kavanaugh’s record and said that Kavanaugh ought to be given the presumption of innocence and fairness.

“We must always remember that when passions are most inflamed, that fairness is most in jeopardy,” she said.

Addressing the sexual assault allegation put forward by Christine Blasey Ford, Collins said she believes that Ford was assaulted.

“Nevertheless, the four witnesses she named could not corroborate any of the events” Ford described, Collins said.

“I do not believe that these charges can fairly prevent Judge Kavanaugh from serving on the court,” she said.

This does not mean that unwanted sexual contact isn’t a problem in the country, Collins also said, adding that a senate vote for Kavanugh does not mean it condones sexual assault.

“The #MeToo movement is real. It matters. It is needed, and it is long overdue,” she said. “We must listen to survivors, and every day we must seek the stop the criminal behavior that has hurt so many.”

Kavanaugh has repeatedly denied the allegation of sexual assault made by Christine Blasey Ford. Both Ford and Kavanugh testified before the Senate Judiciary Committeee which was the last week.

Collins joined Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia in voting “yes” in Friday’s crucial procedural vote, which closed the debate on Kavanaugh and set in motion a final vote on his nomination to the Supreme Court, now scheduled for later this weekend.

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, the last of several senators who until late this week were undecided on Kavanaugh, voted “no.”

These wavering senators could still decide to not back Kavanaugh on the final vote, despite how they voted Friday.

There has been mounting pressure on Collins to vote against Kavanaugh. More than 80 writers from Maine joined a letter that urged Collins to not support the “temperamentally unsuited” Kavanaugh that was seen in the hearing.

“To vote to confirm Kavanaugh, you would have to be confident that he wouldn’t abuse his power. Are you?” the letter read.

More than 80 Maine writers, including Stephen King, to Sen. Collins: Vote ‘no’ on Kavanaugh

The PBS NewsHour will update this story as it develops.