Sens. Jeff Flake, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski, the three Republicans whose votes could sink the nomination of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, have all criticized President Trump’s comments mocking Kavanaugh’s accuser, Christine Blasey Ford.
Flake, appearing on NBC’s Today with Democratic Sen. Chris Coons, said he found Trump’s remarks “appalling,” adding that the president could have handled the situation better.
Trump made a mocking impression of Ford’s testimony at a rally in Mississippi the previous night, attacking the Palo Alto University professor for not remembering details from the night Kavanaugh allegedly sexually assaulted her, an allegation Kavanaugh has repeatedly denied. The crowd met Trump’s comments with loud cheers and applause.
“There’s no time and no place for remarks like that, but to discuss something this sensitive at a political rally is just not right,” Flake said. “I wish he hadn’t done it. I say it’s kind of appalling.”
Here’s a clip of the moment:
“There’s no time and no place for remarks like that. But to discuss something this sensitive at a political rally is just not right…It’s kind of appalling.” @JeffFlake on President Trump’s comments about Dr. Ford at a rally last night pic.twitter.com/6SaTLZK899— TODAY (@TODAYshow) October 3, 2018
Collins, the Republican senator from Maine, told reporters that “the president’s comments were just plain wrong,” but she didn’t respond to a question on whether or not his remarks would affect her vote on Kavanaugh.
Murkowski said on Wednesday afternoon that she is “taking everything into account.”
“I thought the President’s comments yesterday mocking Dr. Ford were wholly inappropriate and in my view unacceptable,” the Alaska senator said Wednesday, according to the Wall Street Journal’s Kristina Peterson:
Murkowksi: “I am taking everything into account. The president’s comments yesterday mocking Dr. Ford were wholly inappropriate and in my view, unacceptable.”— Kristina L. Peterson (@kristinapet) October 3, 2018
Flake has been a vocal critic of Trump during his presidency, though his opposition has only occasionally translated into direct resistance in Congress. Last week, his call for an FBI investigation proved decisive, delaying the confirmation vote by one week. Flake said his vote will depend on the results of the probe.
Collins and Murkowski were two of the three Republicans — along with the late Sen. John McCain — who halted the Obamacare repeal process, and they often find themselves in the middle of a tug-of-war between Senate sides. That, plus their reputation as moderate women, has put them in the spotlight.
Murkowski told the New York Times last week that the dilemma lawmakers and the public are facing is whether women who have made sexual misconduct allegations should be believed. Collins met with five accusers from Maine on Friday after she reportedly set aside the entire day Thursday to watch the Ford-Kavanaugh hearing unfold.
It would take two votes to sink Kavanaugh’s nomination in the Senate, where Republicans hold a slim 51-vote majority. All eyes are on Flake, Collins, and Murkowski to see if two of them will vote to prevent his confirmation.